Renewed Clare Rural Development Strategy 2030 launched
A renewed development strategy for rural Clare aims to unlock potential across a wide range of areas to improve the lives of people living and working in Clare’s rural communities.
The Renewed Clare Rural Development Strategy 2030 (Realising Clare’s Rural Potential: Our Life, Our Home) was officially launched in Ennis, County Clare, on Friday, 10th March, and was adopted by Clare County Council at its March 2023 meeting on Monday, 13th March.
The Renewed Strategy is based on a review of the implementation of the first Clare Rural Development Strategy by the members of the Clare Rural Development Forum.
The first strategy, adopted in 2017, aimed to establish Clare as one of the best places in Ireland in which to live, work and invest.
That commitment has been reiterated in the Renewed Strategy. The review also recommended a renewal of the objectives and targets of the strategy to allow the Clare Rural Development Forum to lead out delivery of additional actions to 2030, underpinning the successful implementation of the original strategy.
The Clare Rural Development Forum consists of community and voluntary groups, local development bodies, public representatives and key state agencies, and is chaired by Clare County Council Chief Executive, Pat Dowling.
Cllr Tony O’Brien, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, said: “Improving the lives of those living and working in Clare’s rural communities is a priority for the Clare Rural Development Forum. There is a huge untapped potential in rural Clare for both jobs and tourism, where there are strong communities with ideas and ambitions for their futures. The aim of this Renewed Strategy is to further unlock that potential.”
Cllr O’Brien continued: “I encourage the various agencies and community organisations to continue to work together, in the spirit of partnership, to build on the successes already achieved and to continue to provide opportunities for sustained quality of life in rural Clare.”
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council, and Chair, Clare Rural Development Forum, said: “Rural Clare is rich in culture, heritage and natural capital. It offers tremendous benefits and quality of life for those who live here. We want to make it an even better place in which to live, work and visit by creating new opportunities, improving connectivity and access between rural and urban areas, and by protecting and enhancing services in the community.”
Having assessed how Covid-19 has affected the implementation and delivery of the plan, it was felt that, to maximise the full potential of the strategy, a revised implementation period to 2030 is required.
The new timeline allows the strategy to align itself with the upcoming Local Economic and Community Plan 2023-2028, and to link in with other local policies, strategies and objectives over the lifetime of the plan. The actions set out in the strategy when launched in 2017 targeted a reversal of the statistical trends that emphasised the stark challenges facing rural Clare. Over the past five years the Clare Rural Development Forum and its constituent agencies have strived to deliver on actions within the Strategy.
“This Renewed Strategy continues to challenge the thinking that urban living is the only model for the future. Our strategy, even more so now, will focus its aims on delivering jobs, multi-service centres, co-operating towns and parishes, environmental programmes, age-friendly communities, vibrant rural ways of life, digitally supported communities and a range of infrastructure. Continued collaboration between Clare Rural Development Forum organisations and communities, businesses, Elected Members, State agencies, Government Departments and key influencers is required to achieve these renewed objectives,” Mr Dowling said.
Clare County Council, to date, remains one of the only local authorities in Ireland to establish a Rural Development Directorate managed by a dedicated Director of Service.
Leonard Cleary, Director of Rural Development in Clare County Council, said: “The Renewed Strategy builds on the success of the original Clare Rural Development Strategy. We have seen investment of over €30 million directly into our rural towns, villages and communities since 2018 across various national and local funding schemes.”
Mr Cleary paid tribute to the members of the Clare Rural Development Forum and all those who have supported the Strategy’s implementation and review: “The coming together in partnership of all of the organisations in the Forum has exceeded the initial vision. All of the organisations have collaborated, delivered projects jointly and continued to engage with the Rural Development Forum process over the last number of years. I would like to thank the Elected Members of Clare County Council for their support of this strategy, as well as the Oireachtas members and the Government Ministers of the various periods for their support and investment. I also want to acknowledge the work of the staff of the Rural Development Directorate in Clare County Council who, day in day out, are supporting communities, supporting projects and ensuring that the projects and objectives in the Rural Development Strategy achieve traction on the ground.”
Bernadette Haugh, Senior Executive Officer, Rural Development Directorate, Clare County Council, said: “When the Government launched its second national rural policy – ‘Our Rural Future’ – in March 2021, County Clare was already well placed to take advantage of the opportunities and targeted funding set out in national policy, which is supported by 150 commitments across Government, to address the challenges facing communities and deliver new opportunities for people living in rural areas across Ireland. The review of the Clare Rural Development Strategy commenced in 2021 to align the national vision for a thriving rural Ireland with our local strategy.”
The Renewed Clare Rural Development Strategy 2030 will focus its aims on 10 Renewed Strategic Objectives:
- Social enterprises
- Multi-service centres and digital broadband
- Co-operating communities under the umbrella of the Municipal Districts
- Managing the environment and transitioning to carbon neutrality
- Supporting and growing Age-Friendly initiatives
- Sustaining our rural way of life through our dynamic agriculture and marine communities
- Enhancement of transport and water/wastewater infrastructure
- Supporting education, child and youth services
- Building tourism
- Population and growth balance and meeting the needs of new communities.
The implementation of the Renewed Clare Rural Development Strategy 2030 will be monitored and evaluated by the Clare Rural Development Forum.
The Renewed Clare Rural Development Strategy 2030 can be viewed at: https://issuu.com/clarecoco/docs/rural_strategy_2030
Pictured at the official launch of the Renewed Clare Rural Development Strategy 2030 in Ennis, County Clare, on Friday, 10th March, were (l-r): Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council, and Chair, Clare Rural Development Forum; Cllr Tony O’Brien, Cathaoirleach, Clare County Council; Bernadette Haugh, Senior Executive Officer, Rural Development Directorate, Clare County Council; and Leonard Cleary, Director of Rural Development, Clare County Council. Photo: Eamon Ward.
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