Action Plan for Rural Development Progress Report – April 2018

No room for complacency despite strong progress

Minister Michael Ring T.D., Minister for Rural and Community Development, today (Friday, 4 May 2018) published the second Progress Report on the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development.

The Action Plan, which was launched in January 2017, contains 277 actions aimed at supporting the economic and social progress of rural Ireland. These actions are to be delivered across Government, State agencies and other bodies over the period 2017-2019. The Action Plan focuses on supporting sustainable rural communities, job creation, rural connectivity, culture and tourism.

The second Progress Report, published today, provides an update on the status of 271 Actions due for delivery by the end of 2017 or with ongoing activity taking place in 2017.  The report shows that 254 of these actions were either completed on schedule or substantially advanced, representing an implementation rate of 93%.

Speaking today, Minister Ring said “The Action Plan for Rural Development is a core part of this Government’s commitment to Rural Ireland. I am delighted to see the continued good progress in implementing the Plan across Government. These actions are having a real impact on rural Ireland: providing investment, driving job creation, facilitating better access to services, and making rural Ireland an even better place in which to live. I will continue to work throughout 2018 to ensure that we continue this progress right across Government.”

Notable achievements include:

  • Employment outside of the Dublin region increased by 56,200, and accounted for 84% of the overall national increase in employment.
  • Two-thirds of the 19,332 new jobs created by Enterprise Ireland companies in 2017 were outside of Dublin, while over 50% of the 19,851 new jobs created last year by IDA client companies were located outside of Dublin.
  • Over 450 towns and villages have been supported under the Town and Village Renewal scheme since Q4 2016. A further €15 million has been allocated by Minister Ring for more than 200 further projects in 2018.
  • The completion of the Waterford Greenway. The Greenway has greatly benefitted local communities along the 46km route with over 250,000 people using it in its first year.
  • €27 million has been provided to support over 1,100 rural access roads under the Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) since September 2017. The scheme provides improvements to the private roads which people in rural areas use to access their homes and farms.
  • Tenants were secured for IDA properties in Waterford and Athlone, with new buildings completed in Sligo, Castlebar and Tralee.
  • Over 900 projects with a value of over €27 million have been approved under the LEADER Programme up to April 2018.
  • A total of 1,567 allocations totalling €45.96 million were made outside Dublin under the 2017 Sports Capital Programme.

Minister Ring continued: “While there has been significant progress in implementing the Action Plan, there is no room for complacency. I will continue to work with my Cabinet colleagues to ensure that their Departments deliver on their commitments to rural Ireland as outlined in the Action Plan.”

The Minister concluded: “The recent announcement of a €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, as part of Project Ireland 2040, further demonstrates this Government’s commitment to supporting rural development. Continued implementation of the Action Plan for Rural Development, together with the additional investment provided for through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, will ensure Government delivers on its commitment of strengthened rural economies and communities.”

Note to editors:

Realising our Rural Potential, the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development, was launched on 23rd January 2017.  The Action Plan contains 277 actions for delivery across Government, State agencies and other bodies over the next three years to support the economic and social progress of rural Ireland.

The actions are broken down across 5 thematic Pillars as follows:

Pillar 1:      Supporting Sustainable Communities

Pillar 2:      Supporting Enterprise and Employment

Pillar 3:      Maximising our Rural Tourism and Recreation Potential

Pillar 4:      Fostering Culture and Creativity in rural communities

Pillar 5:      Improving Rural Infrastructure and Connectivity

Each action has been assigned to a lead body which will be responsible for implementation of the action within a definite timescale.  Progress on the implementation of the actions is overseen by a Monitoring Committee which includes senior representatives of relevant Government Departments and key rural stakeholder interests.  Progress Reports on the implementation of the Action Plan are published twice-yearly.  The second Progress Report comes just over 12 months after the publication of the Plan.

The second Progress Report, providing updates on each action, can be found here: Action Plan for Rural Development Second Progress Report – April 2018

Further achievements include:

  • 21 successful applicants, representing all regions of the country, secured up to €30.5m for their projects in the first competitive call under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund.
  • 231 successful projects, with a total of just under €7 million, were approved under the CLÁR programme in 2017.
  • In 2017, 3,057 Local Community Groups received supports under the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) aimed at tackling poverty, social exclusion and long-term unemployment.
  • A new iteration of the Seniors Alert scheme was launched, bringing total investment in 2017 to over €2.68 million.
  • 630 new full-time jobs were created in Údarásna Gaeltachta client companies in 2017, a net increase of 155 jobs on the previous year.
  • More than 240 projects were approved for funding to the value of €13.6 million under the Rural Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. This funding supports the development and maintenance of greenways, bluewaysand walking trails in rural areas.
  • The Heritage Council approved funding for 198 projects during the year under the Community Heritage Grants scheme in 2017.
  • €1m was allocated to the local authorities in 2017 to enable them to develop their Culture and Creativity Plans and an associated programme of events and initiatives in each county.
  • Over the course of 2017, the first year of operation of the seven new Fisheries Local Action Groups, grants of €2.7m were awarded to 190 projects.
  • Creative Youth, launched in December 2017,  sets out 16 measures to ensure that every child in Ireland has practical access to tuition, experience and participation in music, drama, art and coding by 2022.
  • A Digital Skills Training Programme rolled out training to over 22,000 citizens in 2017 (DCCAE) and development of local digital strategies in each local authority are being funded.

Of the 271 actions to be reported on in the second Progress Report, 16 are delayed; however, these will continue to be monitored with a view to their completion as soon as possible.


Reference list:Department of Rural and Community Development. 2018. Retrieved from

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