National rural plan will bring tangible benefits to Laois says Minister Charlie Flanagan

Laois Fine Gael TD says Action Plan for Rural Ireland will have an impact in Portlaoise, Portarlington, Rathdowney, Mountmellick, and Mountrath and other parts of Laois

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Minister Charlie Flanagan

Laois TD and Government Minister Charlie Flanagan says the new Action Plan for Rural Ireland will bring tangible benefits to people in his constituency

In a statement Minister Flanagan said his party, Fine Gael, is using the resources created by the economy to deliver 'real benefits' to people and communities all across the country.

The  new Action Plan for Rural Ireland contains over 270 targeted actions. It contains measures intended to support the revitalisation of over 600 rural towns and villages across Ireland, which will see investment of up to €37 million per annum in rural development schemes such as the Town and Village renewal Scheme, the CLÁR Programme and the Rural Recreation Programme.

“A number of towns and villages across Laois were badly affected by the recession of recent year and part of Fine Gael’s Action Plan will review planning legislation to allow the change of use of vacant commercial properties in rural towns and villages.

"I hope to see this having an impact in towns such as Portlaoise, Portarlington, Rathdowney, Mountmellick, and Mountrath to name a few. There will also be a new pilot scheme to encourage increased residential occupancy in towns and villages," he said.

Minister Flanagan said he was pleased that the Government is allocating an initial €275 million to implement the National Broadband Plan and will be implementing the recommendations of Report of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce. Every Local Authority in the country will have a Local Digital Strategy and broadband officers to see this through.

Muintir na Tíre, the National Association for Community Development, gave the new plan a cautious welcome. Its CEO Niall Garvey said the association has been lobbying for many years on the need for a comprehensive Government policy for Rural Ireland. 

“We therefore welcome the issuing of this comprehensive action plan. It still does not include an overall policy - we envisaged this including a vision of future Rural Ireland – what it would be like to live and work in, what essential services would be required for this, and what baseline commitment would be given on the provision of these services,” he said.