The Government has unveiled its blueprint to transform rural areas across the country.
Entitled Our Rural Future, it is described as the most ambitious and transformational policy for rural development in decades.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Ireland is heading into an era “of unprecedented change”.
“Over the course of the pandemic, we have discovered new ways of working and we have rediscovered our communities,” he said at its launch.
“The policy we launch today, Our Rural Future, provides a framework for the development of rural areas over the next five years.
“The policy is forward-looking and ambitious, and addresses both the challenges facing rural areas and the opportunities which rural economies and communities can capitalise on.
“That vision is built on the talent, skills and creativity of people in rural communities; on the importance of vibrant and lived-in rural places; and on the potential to create quality jobs and sustain our shared environment.
The initiative will be part of the Government’s National Development Plan.
Micheal Martin said it is an “unprecedented opportunity” for rural development post Covid-19.
The plan includes a major focus on attracting remote workers to rural communities; revitalising town centres, rural jobs, adventure tourism, green economy and island development central to new policy.
The rollout of broadband is said to bring new opportunities in areas like eHealth, remote learning, online trading and new technologies.
Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys said: “Our Rural Future represents a new milestone in the approach to rural development for Ireland.
“As we recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to reimagine rural Ireland and harness the talent, skills and creativity running through our rural communities.
“For decades we have seen global trends where young people leave their local communities to live and work in larger cities. As we emerge from Covid-19, we will never have a better opportunity to reverse that long-standing trend.
“It will allow people to work from their own local communities, revitalise our town centres, reduce commuting times, lower transport emissions and, most importantly, improve the quality of life of our people.”