Saturday 25 May 2019

'Money will follow plan'

All roads will not lead to Dublin says Leo

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addressing the gathering in The Model last Friday. Pics: Donal Hackett
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addressing the gathering in The Model last Friday. Pics: Donal Hackett

Paul Deering

Ireland 2040 was launched to great fanfare in Sligo last February when the cabinet came to town and on his return visit to the capital of the North West last Friday, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkak said he was now backing up the commitments with money.

He revealed details of a Rural Regeneration and Development Fund which is being underpinned by one billion euro, a fraction of which was announced on Friday at The Model. More than 290 projects had applied for funding under the scheme and the first 18 successful ones to be supported in 2019 to the tune of €55 million were revealed including two for Sligo, a Yeats Trail (€500,000) and the Surfing Centre of Excellence in Strandhill (€615,752).

Sligo County Council will be allocated the €500,000 to construct the Yeats Trail along 15 locations associated with the Nobel Prize winning poet. This will include 90 new signs, a dedicated website and an an App.

The funding for the surf centre is in addition to the €1 million which was allocated to this project by Failte Ireland earlier this year.

"I know people hearing politicians talking about 10 year plans and 2040 can be sceptical. It sounds like the "long finger" talking. But that's not the case. Project Ireland 2040 is already being implemented. Next year alone there will be a 25% increase in infrastructure spending and you can already see the results all over the country,

"Over the next twenty years, the population of Ireland is expected to grow by one million people. We want to ensure that this growth is balanced, that all parts of the country share in the nation's prosperity, and that we do it in a sustainable and climate friendly way. Project Ireland 2040 is our way to achieve that. It is a plan like no other. Because it represents a radically different approach to planning for our future.

"Project Ireland 2040 consists of a national spatial plan that is backed up with real money. The money follows the plan," he added. "Imagine the future for Sligo and for this part of the country. Project Ireland 2040 recognises the significant role Sligo plays as a regional growth centre and it will help it develop further. It means that by 2030 all regions and urban centres, particularly the North West, will be linked to Dublin by a high quality road network. And all parts of Ireland will be linked to each other including Sligo, Galway, Limerick/Shannon and Cork along the Atlantic Economic Corridor.

"To achieve this, we are investing in roads infrastructure including the Sligo Western Distributor Road, and other major projects such as the N4 Colooney to Castlebaldwin. We are investing in healthcare infrastructure. Projects like the redevelopment of Sligo University Hospital, the diabetic centre and interventional radiology department will all help to improve the quality of hospital service for patients in the North West for years to come.

"And the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund - the reason we are here today - will enable towns, villages and outlying rural areas to grow sustainably. It's all about making Rural Ireland a more attractive place to stay, move into or run a business. One of the more revolutionary aspects of these Funds is that they are competitive and open to a wide variety of partners.

"If you have an idea to improve your area, develop new technologies, encourage climate action, you have the opportunity to make a real difference. Today we are announcing the first round of funding under the Rural Fund with more announcements to come. I have been struck by the dynamism of the ideas that were submitted. Projects involving heritage, regeneration and the public realm, greenways, telecommunications, tourism, environment, enterprise, and public transport.

Sligo Champion