The Government’s Action Plan for Rural Ireland will help to revitalise County Clare by bring tangible benefits to its communities, that’s according to Fine Gael TD Joe Carey. The plan, launched by Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Monday, contains more than 270 targeted actions to help deliver these benefits to people all over the county.

Commenting on the development Deputy Carey said, “On a local level, I am delighted the Shannon Group will play a central role in the development of an Atlantic Economic Corridor to promote more balanced regional development. This is one of the major strategies to stimulate job creation in the western counties and further supports will also be  provided to companies to meet the challenges of Brexit.”

The Shannon Group has been charged with creating appropriate incentives to attract further businesses to the existing aviation industry cluster in the International Aviation Services Centre at Shannon.

Deputy Carey said it is also envisaged that the group will provide a new incubation space in Shannon to encourage start-up  businesses and rural entrepreneurs by the end of the year.

According to the Action Plan, Shannon Airport will help increase visitor numbers to rural Ireland by 12% over the next three years by expanding the number of  existing routes and services.

Deputy Carey added, “Tourism is crucial to the economy of rural Ireland and many livelihoods are dependent on it here in Clare. We will invest €6 million in the development of our Blueways to support recreational tourism and €10 million in our national parks and nature reserves to support niche tourism

“The Action Plan aims to support the revitalisation of more than 600 rural towns and villages which will involve an annual investment of up to €37 million in rural development schemes such as the Town and Village renewal Scheme, the CLÁR Programme and the Rural Recreation Programme.

“A number of Clare’s towns and villages were badly affected by the recession 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 like Kilrush, Killaloe, Ennistymon and Scariff. There will also be a new pilot scheme to encourage increased residential occupancy in towns and villages.”

In addition he said, “Broadband is crucial to many people in rural Ireland, particularly those trying to run a business. 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.

“We will invest €4 billion under the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme, including €250 million in the LEADER Programme. Sports and recreation play a major part in the Action Plan with planned investment of €50 million in sports, recreation and cultural facilities throughout the country, which will have a positive impact on communities here in Clare.

“We have seen how a targeted and monitored approach worked with our Action Plan for Jobs, reducing unemployment from 15.2% at its height in the recession, to 7.8% as it currently stands. This Action Plan for Rural Ireland will see all Government Departments working to revitalise and strengthen rural Ireland for the benefit of all who live there,” Deputy Carey concluded.