The Coalition will today announce a €30m package aimed at reviving recession-hit rural towns and villages, the Irish Independent can reveal.
The funding is designed for a range of purposes including tackling minor infrastructural deficits and upgrading parks, civic areas and river walks.
Funding will also be made available for the renovation of derelict buildings, the regeneration of vacant sites and upgrading street lighting.
The scheme, which is designed to increase the "attractiveness of a town as a place to live and work", was secured as part of the multi-billion euro Capital Spending Plan.
Local authorities will be invited to apply for funding through the scheme, which will have a budget of €30m and run over a number of years.
The Coalition believes this approach will ensure councils use their "local knowledge" to revitalise towns.
"The central aim of the scheme is to support the revitalisation of towns and villages across Ireland in order to improve the living and working environment of their communities and increase their potential to support increased economic activity into the future," a Government source told the Irish Independent last night.
"This is all about increasing the sustainability of these areas as a place in which to live and work, as well as stemming the loss of shopping and other facilities to the larger towns," the source added.
Details of the scheme will be revealed today by Rural Affairs Minister Ann Phelan and Environment Minister Alan Kelly.
The scheme comes on the back of research by the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) which shows that rural towns have felt the impact of the economic downturn more acutely than cities and larger urban centres.