· Department supports directly responded to increased needs of communities during COVID-19 Pandemic
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has today (Wednesday, 11 July) published the Department of Rural and Community Development’s Annual Report for 2020.
The report provides a comprehensive overview of the wide range of policies, programmes and initiatives developed and delivered by the Department in 2020.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on all citizens and communities.
In response, the Department provided funding communities throughout Ireland, while maintaining vital supports and services.
Highlights in 2020 include the €45 million COVID-19 Stability Fund.
This Fund supported hundreds of voluntary and community groups, charities and social enterprises, in continuing to deliver vital services to vulnerable groups throughout the Pandemic.
2020 also saw further investment through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF).
In all, Funding of €168 million was approved for 139 projects by the end of the year.
Some €152 million was also invested through the Rural Development Investment Programme, which includes the LEADER Programme, Town and Village Renewal Scheme, the Local Improvement Scheme, the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme and the CLÁR Programme.
Total expenditure under the LEADER Programme in 2020 was €45.4 million.
Funding of €15.7 million was approved for 226 projects under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS) with over €25 million approved for over 500 projects under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.
The Department continued to deliver programmes that support community development across the country. The Community Enhancement Programme provided €7 million of funding to projects across the country, so that community groups could enhance facilities in disadvantaged areas. Local organisations and vulnerable people also received increased supports through our community development programmes such as the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP).
On the policy front, the Department published the country’s first National Volunteering Strategy 2021 – 2025 in December with the aim of recognising, supporting and promoting the unique value and contribution of volunteers to Irish society. Significant work was undertaken in implementing the National Social Enterprise Policy and the five-year strategy to support the community and voluntary sector in Ireland (Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities).
The development of the next phase of a national rural development policy was significantly further developed over the course of 2020.
The Department’s policy functions were also widened with the addition of responsibilities for the islands, following the establishment of the new Government in 2020 and the development of the national islands policy was substantially advanced during the year.
Welcoming the publication of the annual report, Minister Humphreys said:
“The pandemic brought about huge challenges for everyone right across our society. The work of my Department was more important than ever during 2020 in order to support communities and ensure critical services continued to be delivered to vulnerable groups.
“I am proud to see the positive impact the programmes and schemes under my Department are having right across the country.
“As we move beyond this Pandemic, it is essential that we continue to support our communities and to help make Rural Ireland a better place to live, work and raise a family.”
“I would like to thank my colleague, Minister of State Joe O’Brien, for his dedicated work during 2020 and to also acknowledge the commitment and invaluable contributions of the staff and management team in the Department, particularly during, what were very challenging times.”
The Department’s Annual Report has been published bilingually and can be found on gov.ie