The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) have acknowledged the publication of the Government’s Rural Development Strategy – ‘Our Rural Future’. Representing Ireland’s 49 Local Development Companies (LDCs), the ILDN welcome the ambition of today’s policy announcement.

Commenting on the launch of ‘Our Rural Future’, ILDN Chairman Jim Finn said; “our Local Development Companies have been pillars of Rural Development for over 30 years. Covid-19 and the rollout of the National Broadband plan provides an opportunity for a reimagining of the potential of Rural areas. The Strategy identifies the creation of ‘Local Master Plans’ to meet the long term needs of Rural areas. Local Development Companies, with their track record in Rural Development and strategic planning will be central to this process.

Referring to the role of LEADER in the Strategy, Mr Finn continued; “The LEADER Programme has been identified as a key measure in this plan. As the providers of LEADER across the Country we welcome the continued commitment to this critical programme and call on the Government to fully support LEADER through maximising EU funding and Exchequer co-funding in the years ahead. LEADER can provide the required development capacity and finance needed to deliver measures identified in the strategy. Furthermore LDCs have been at the forefront of the emerging Smart Village concept which will be a major element of the next round of EU programming and an important element of any successful Rural Development approach.”

Concluding Mr Finn noted; “The role of Local Development Companies is interwoven throughout the strategy. As providers of employment support measures such as the Rural Social Scheme, Tús and Community Employment and the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, as well as Outdoor Recreational and Walks measures, our LDCs will be vital partners in ensuring that the ambition of this plan is realised. We look forward to working positively with Government in this endeavour.