County Galway towns with populations of under 5,000 may be set to benefit from a new rural renewal scheme, which a local TD said must "kick-start a badly needed revival in our towns and villages".
The Government has today launched the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, which makes an allocation of €380,000 available to each county in the State. Up to eight separate projects in each county can receive a grant from the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs from September.
The criteria for funding under the scheme states projects must have a "sustainable and visible impact". Projects are expected to be forwarded by the Galway County Council but local community groups will have a say in how the various schemes are developed.
Critics of the scheme are likely to argue the figure available to counties is too low to make a significant impact in reviving rural towns and villages, however the new scheme has been welcomed by Independent Alliance Galway East TD and Minister of State Seán Canney, who is confident it will give such areas "a chance to breathe again".
"The revitalisation of rural Ireland is something I pushed for very strongly in the programme of Government," he said. "For too long the focus of economic recovery has been centred on the major towns and cities to the detriment of rural Ireland. The Independent Alliance insisted this emphasis would change and that there would be a re-focusing of central funding towards rural Ireland. I sincerely hope this scheme will kick-start a badly needed revival in our towns and villages across Galway East."