The Chairman of the Oireachtas committee on rural and community affairs has described an allocation of more than €7.5 million for six rural regeneration projects in Clare as a significant move towards strengthening rural economies and communities.

Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey said that the allocation from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund was an example of Project Ireland 2040 delivering capital funding for projects that will make a real difference to the people allover the county.

“Contrary to what opposition politicians may have been trying to claim in recent days, Fine Gael is committed to balanced regional development through major capital projects. Funding for strategic projects is clearly available to support the Government’s commitment to this region and investment will continue.

“The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund supports measures to rejuvenate communities, create employment and transform rural economies,” Deputy Carey said.

Under Category 1, which is for shovel ready projects, funding was allocated to the following Clare projects:

€2,860,000 towards the Lahinch Seaworld and town upgrade.This involves a substantial upgrade of the Lahinch Seaworld facility and associated public realm works in the town. It includes the retrofitting of the Seaworld building; new public toilets; completion of the new Surf Rescue and Training Centre, Lahinch sports field, new car park and amenity area.

€1,720,000 for restoration work on the historic Vandeleur Estate in Kilrush. The project will include a new museum and the development of arts and crafts facilities to promote local heritage. 

€868,500 was allocated to the Loop Head Visitor Centre. This will include the refurbishment and expansion of facilities at the Loop Head lighthouse.

The Burren National Park will share in an overall allocation of almost €4million for major upgrade of National Parks and Reserves in a number of locations. Works will include creating new park trails, upgrading access facilities and car parks, new signage and visual imagery.

Under Category 2, which is seed funding for projects with potential, the following Clare projects were allocated funds:

€920,500 towards the  development of a detailed design for a visitor centre on Inis Cealtra Island, a design for a new boat landing point including visitor trails and the production of an interpretation strategy for the island.

€465,571 was allocated for a masterplan to develop a new visitor and tourist Centre at Doolin pier.

€666,300 will go towards the development of a strategy to solve critical congestion and visitor management issues along the Wild Atlantic Way at 15 key locations in Clare and Kerry.

A further €1,057,500 was allocated to implement the recommendations of the Tourism Interpretative Masterplan for Ireland’s National Parks and Coole Park to deliver a social and economic benefit through employment and revenue generation.

“The latest round of funding under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, following on from the first announcement last year, means that 84 projects have been allocated a total of €86 million funding for rural regeneration and development,” Deputy Carey explained. 

“This will be leveraged with a further €31 million in matched funding being provided by state-funded bodies. It represents a total investment of €117 million in projects, which will deliver for rural communities across the country.”

“It is vital that we continue to build resilience in rural communities and make our towns and villages vibrant places for families to live. It is also particularly appropriate, with Brexit approaching, that we continue to strengthen the rural economy and support sustainable development. The projects that this fund supports are targeting areas where they can have the greatest economic and social impact,” he concluded. 

CAPTION:  The Lahinch Seaworld facility which will benefit from €2,860,000 in Government funding.