Monday 23 January 2017
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D. and the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan T.D. have today welcomed the publication of the Action Plan for Rural Ireland. Minister Ross indicated that his Department had worked closely with the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs on the development of the plan and would work to implement the actions in the transport, tourism and sport spheres within the timeframes identified.
Speaking about the Plan Minister Ross said: “The Plan recognises that the provision of a high quality, interconnected system of transport in rural Ireland is key to these areas. Arising from the Programme for Government, the Plan commits to conducting a full review of public transport policy, including the rural transport dimension, to ensure that it meets the needs of rural communities.
The Plan provides for specific measures relating to the Rural Transport Programme (RTP) and commits to assessing and implementing improvements to existing RTP routes and developing new routes, examining the potential for integration with other transport services and ensuring that RTP vehicles are accessible having regard to all passenger needs. These measures are underpinned by €2.19 million additional funding for the RTP secured in Budget 2017, bringing the total allocation for the Programme this year to €14.396 million. Budget 2017 also increased the total amount of Exchequer funding available for public transport services by 11%. This increased funding will assist with the development of the PSO network, across both bus and rail services, and enhance the public transport service offering in rural Ireland.”
Minister Ross also emphasized: “I am absolutely committed to ensuring public transport connectivity in rural areas.”
The Minister also pointed to the potential of air connectivity in supporting economic growth in the regions. The growing level of connectivity overall from the State Airports at Cork and Shannon, along with the regional airports, will help underpin the development of the regions particularly in the context of the delivery of the other Regional Plan actions.
Speaking on the Plan Minister O’Donovan said: “Tourism is uniquely placed to deliver economic activity and jobs to areas of the country that might otherwise struggle to generate investment as well as keeping communities together. Accordingly tourism features strongly in the Action Plan for Rural Ireland, myself, the Department and the tourism agencies will strive to ensure that the aims of the plan are achieved in a timely fashion. Also by investing in sports and community facilities in rural areas, the Sports Capital Programme makes these areas more attractive places to live and work. It also supports rural jobs and encourages healthy lifestyles through participation in sports. The 2017 round of grants is open for applications from the 23rd of January until the 24th of February.