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Clare County Council’s Rural Strategy Praised for Innovative Forward-Thinking

Clare is the first county to launch a rural development strategy, which has a 4,000-jobs target, following the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development.

The action plan, launched Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, aims to create the jobs through the development of community-led social enterprises, supported by Enterprise Ireland, Local Enterprise Office Clare, the Office of the Action Plan for Jobs (APJ), the LEADER Programme and the rural and community support unit of Clare County Council.

Digital hubs will be established at numerous locations throughout the county to support rural enterprise by facilitating e-working, small-scale training and conferencing.

The strategy is also targeting the development of community-run, multi-service centres, which will aim to provide a range of public services, such as GP, postal, social protection, health, transport, advice and information from a single building.

Innovative rural transport initiatives, such as a type of ‘rural Uber’, community car-pooling and community bus services are also earmarked under the strategy, while Clare County Council will be establishing Rural Community Development Officers in each of Clare’s four municipal districts by the end of the year.

Speaking at the launch of the strategy, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, has said that Clare County Council’s Rural Strategy shows that by being strategic and positive we can provide practical solutions to the challenges facing rural Ireland.

“Rural Ireland is changing and it’s really encouraging to see that Clare County Council is responding to these changes with a rural strategy which addresses rural challenges in a creative and practical way. With its focus on rural job creation, improved transport linkages and access to broadband and joint services, this strategy complements the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development. It is my priority to ensure that Government Departments, local authorities and community networks follow the same strategic path in relation to rural development. Clare County Council’s Rural Strategy is an example of this approach in action,” he said.

Clare County Council’s plans for “Rural Uber” type car-pooling app came in for particular praise with the Minister saying that it demonstrates that Clare is thinking ahead:

“I’m really impressed by the overall strategy and in particular by some of the measures contained within it. These include the development by the Council of a “rural Uber” type app to facilitate car-pooling and community bus services. This will enable people in remote rural areas to get into their local towns and villages. It makes sense from a practical point of view and also has the benefit of encouraging social interaction within communities.”

Similar enthusiasm was directed toward plans for the introduction for new local digital hubs:

“Five local digital hubs are going to be rolled out in the next 18 months to enable people to work and carry out business using high speed broadband from their local town or village. So if you’re a farmer who wants to file your returns or a commuter who wants to work “from home” a couple of days a week, you can go to your local digital hub and take care of your business. These digital hubs are to be located in Kilrush, Feakle, Miltown Malbay, Ennis and Enistymon.”

The Clare Rural Development Strategy is available from the offices of Clare County Council at Áras Contae an Chláir, New Road, Ennis, or may be downloaded from clarecoco.ie