Tuesday, 29 November 2016
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
461. To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the reorganisation of her Department to include regional and rural affairs has been completed (details supplied); if so, the resources and staffing that have been made available to accommodate these new and important responsibilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37163/16]
Supporting the economic and social development of rural Ireland and strengthening regional development are key priorities for the Government. Actions to support these objectives will be delivered across a range of Departments and agencies. The Taoiseach has assigned responsibility to me for providing greater co-ordination and prioritisation across Government of the work that will impact on rural Ireland. Minister of State Michael Ring has also been assigned responsibility for Regional Economic Development at my Department.
A new Division has been established in my Department to co-ordinate my own Department’s work on regional and rural affairs and to oversee and monitor initiatives across other Departments to support rural development. The Division is headed by an Assistant Secretary and includes staff who have been re-assigned from the rural development area of the former Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. I have also secured additional posts to deal with new responsibilities under my Department’s remit, such as the post office network and working with Local Authorities to prepare for the roll-out of rural broadband.
The Taoiseach has also asked me to develop an Action Plan for Rural Development which will act as an overarching structure for the co-ordination and implementation of initiatives across Government which will benefit rural Ireland.
The Action Plan is currently being finalised and I intend to publish it in the coming weeks.