Written answers

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Department of Rural and Community Development

Community Development Projects

Photo of Ruairi Ó MurchúRuairi Ó Murchú (Louth, Sinn Fein)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

910. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development her future plans for the development of additional community hubs in rural areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39244/22]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Our Rural Future, Ireland’s Rural Development Policy was launched in early 2021. The policy recognises the opportunity for rural rejuvenation that remote working presents and commits to establishing a comprehensive and integrated national network of 400 remote working hubs by 2025.

In furtherance of this commitment, my Department’s focus to date has been on strategically developing the National Hub Network, the Network's shared online booking platform connectedhubs.ie, adding capacity to Ireland's existing remote working infrastructure and supporting the establishment of new hubs.

Over €100m has been invested by my department in the development of remote working facilities through programmes such as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund. Successful projects are developed in collaboration with local authorities and communities with many projects seeing vacant and derelict buildings in rural towns and villages converted into remote working hubs.

On 8 June, I announced that 81 projects across the country were successful in securing funding via the Connected Hubs Call 2022, allocating €5 million in funding to add additional capacity to the existing remote working infrastructure in remote working hubs and Broadband Connection Points throughout the country. This follows the award of almost €9M under the Connected Hubs Call in 2021.

In addition to the National Hub Network, my department is working closely with officials at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) to establish the nationwide network of Broadband Connection Points (BCPs).

BCPs are publicly accessible facilities, typically community centres and sports clubs, in predominantly rural and isolated areas. These facilities offer onsite internet access for a variety of community uses, including skills training and STEM activities for children and young people, eHealth initiatives and remote working. To date 273 of 300 sites are live, with the remainder scheduled for completion this year.

To date my focus has been on establishing the National Hub Network and the BCP network and on achieving the initial critical mass. Following strong progress on the establishment phase of both projects, my focus has now shifted to the next stage of development. To this end, my officials have been consulting with hub managers across the country, with local authorities and communities, and with other stakeholders, to better inform the future strategic direction of the National Hub Network, the connectedhubs.ie platform and the BCP program.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.