Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Rural and Community Development
Remote working has the potential to transform rural Ireland, allowing people to build careers in good quality jobs while continuing to live closer to home. It also provides an opportunity for those that moved away from home to return to their roots to raise their families.
The increased shift to remote work in the last nine months as a result of COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to re-imagine the possibilities for a greater regional distribution of jobs and to support a better quality of life for many people who previously spent many hours in long commutes
This shift has been supported by the significant investment my Department has made, in partnership with Local Authorities in many cases, in remote working facilities throughout the country over the last number of years. For example, in Cork, my Department provided more than €200,000 from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF) to support the development by Cork County Council of their Rural Digital Innovation Hub Strategy.
My Department also provided €152,626 to the Ludgate Hub Innovation Cluster in Skibbereen through the Town and Village Renewal Scheme in 2017.
As part of an expanded Town and Village Renewal Scheme next year, I have secured an additional €5 million for investment in remote working facilities at digital hubs and Broadband Connection Points across rural Ireland. It will be a matter for Local Authorities to develop applications for funding from this, and other appropriate schemes from my Department, as well as from other Government Departments and agencies where appropriate.
My Department is also currently working with the Western Development Commission to develop a national network of remote working hubs. This work is being overseen by an Interdepartmental Working Group chaired by the Secretary General of my Department. The Working Group is currently carrying out a data-gathering project to develop a comprehensive centralised dataset of remote working facilities in Ireland. Both Cork City and County councils have been asked to contribute to this exercise.