Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Department of Rural and Community Development
The increased shift to remote working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has given us the opportunity 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.
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, and to generate increased economic activity in our rural towns. This is a key focus of the Government's new rural development policy Our Rural Future .
My Department also continues to invest significantly in the development of new Hub facilities across the country. Since 2015, the Town and Village Renewal Scheme has provided €7.8m in funding to hubs and hub-related projects. In addition, €65m has been invested in hub projects through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF) over the same time period. Many of the successful projects involve the regeneration of historic town centre buildings as Enterprise and Co-Working Hubs.
I am not aware of any application to develop a remote working hub in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork through either the Town and Village Renewal Scheme or the RRDF, although a further call for projects under the RRDF will issue later this year.
In addition, my Department is overseeing the installation of 24 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) in Co. Cork, under the Broadband Connection Point initiative. These facilities will provide onsite access to high-speed broadband in areas without adequate connectivity. Typical BCPs are publicly accessible sites such as community centres and sports clubs in rural or isolated areas, including a number of our off-shore islands. 15 of these BCPs have already been installed in Co. Cork, with the remaining 9 installations in progress. No further BCPs are being considered at this time. Further information on the BCPs that are live can be found here: nbi.ie/bcp-map/
An Inter-Departmental Working Group, chaired by the Secretary General of my Department, was established last October to oversee the development of a National Hub Network. To support the establishment of the National Hub Network I have allocated €5 million to fund a Connected Hubs Call under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme this year. This initiative will provide funding to support small scale capital works in existing hubs, both public and private, and BCPs. Details of the Connected Hubs Call were announced on Thursday April 29th and are available at:
In parallel to the development of the National Hub Network, the Tánaiste Department is currently overseeing the implementation of the National Remote Working Strategy which was published in December 2020. A key action of this strategy will be the mapping of commuter patterns, regional skills and childcare facilities to inform future hub development decisions.