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Banagher and Shinrone to benefit from €300,000 funding injection

Thursday, 12 October 2017

OFFALY received the fourth lowest allocation of funding under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme after it was announced three locations in the county will receive €300,000 of the total €21 million allocated.

Details of the funding, which is part of the Government's Action Plan for Rural Development, were announced by the Department of Rural and Community Development last week and Offaly's funding will be split between three projects in Banagher, Shinrone and Geashill.

€100,000 has been allocated to Banagher for improvement works to the Marina and the streetscape. €100,000 will go to Geashill to allow the overhead wires in the village to be undergrounded while Shinrone has been allocated the final €100,000 to allow substantial improvements in the village.

However, Offaly is getting far less than neighbouring counties such as Westmeath, who will receive €596,000, €983,000 for Laois while Tipperary looks set to receive €857,000.

Meanwhile, reaction amongst Offaly's public representatives was mostly positive following the announcement. However Offaly Sinn Fein TD, Carol Nolan was left disappointed by the announcement, saying it was "one of the lowest in the state".

"This represents just less than 1.5% of the total funding allocated across the state of €21 million. I extend my congratulations to the three projects that received this funding and I hope these projects can be progressed as soon as possible. The scheme allows for up to 15 proposals by each local authority to be considered for funding and I will be asking the Minister to confirm why only three were selected for approval."

"A recent parliamentary question response from the Minister shows only four projects were approved under the scheme last year in Offaly out of a total of 170 projects across the state. In my view, Offaly towns and villages have been hit hard during the austerity period imposed by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. We have some of the highest rates of vacant commercial premises in the state and we have witnessed the closure of vital services post offices, garda stations and banks."

"I fully believe our towns and villages have huge potential, but appropriate support and investment is critical. I fully intend to advocate on behalf of our communities in order to help ensure that Offaly gets its fair share of resources and I urge my fellow TDs and local councillors to do the same."

In a statement to the "Tribune", Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy pointed out the scheme was an "important part of Fine Gael's work to rejuvenate and revitalise rural Ireland and this year's allocation to Offaly will have a significant impact across the county". "This injection of €300,000 is very welcome and I know from my discussions with my Fine Gael colleagues on Offaly County Council that the Council will make every effort to supplement this funding to allow additional works to be carried out. It's important to note the Government has approved funds for the three schemes that Offaly County Council applied for and I have ascertained from the Council there are a significant number of projects in the pipeline that will be applied for under next year's scheme."

Deputy Corcoran Kennedy pointed out this latest announcement came "very soon" after Minister Ring's allocation of €1 million to the Slieve Bloom Bike Trail project, an announcement which has been "long awaited". "Having lobbied my Fine Gael colleague, Minister Michael Ring TD consistently, I was delighted €1 million was allocated to develop under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. I was particularly delighted that out of national fund of just over €11 million, I secured this substantial investment for Offaly."

While her party colleague, Cllr John Clendennen described last week's announcement as "great news for Offaly".

Shinrone based Cllr Peter Ormond welcomed the news for the village. "This allocation will greatly enhance the village and complement some of the ongoing works that are taking place. Like many other villages and small towns, Shinrone has seen its fair share of economic decline in the past and this allocation will support the village regeneration."

Cllr Ormond thanked the executive of Offaly County Council, the planning section and members of Shinrone Tidy Towns for working together to put the application together. "A very impressive plan was put together and submitted to the Department for approval.There were several meetings between the interested parties and it's great to see people working together with the local authority on this initiative. We hope to have more public consultation on a plan in the coming months before the plan is finalised for the village. There will also be opportunities for people to make submissions to the council."

Cllr Ormond is now looking forward to seeing the work completed early in the new year. 

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