4th March 2021 | Green Gazette

Green Ministers announce funding for tourism, biodiversity, and organic farming

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Minister Martin announces masterplan to transform tourism in the Shannon region

A major new plan to develop the tourism potential of the Shannon region, The Shannon Tourism Masterplan, was launched this week by Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD.

The Masterplan has examined the potential for positioning the Shannon as a hub destination for international and domestic tourism. It identifies the scale and scope of this challenge and has identified the measures needed to develop the necessary infrastructure, products, and experiences to reposition the Shannon Region as a key tourism destination within Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

“The Shannon Tourism Masterplan provides a significant and extensive framework to grow tourism in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands aligning strongly with government’s national policy to drive rural development through tourism”, Minister Martin said.

“I welcome the publication of this plan as its successful delivery will create a haven for on-water and off-water experiences offering a range of ways to be active in nature, in a sustainable manner. By inviting the visitor to slow down, stay longer and to engage with local heritage and communities Fáilte Ireland, Waterways Ireland and the Local Authorities will support the creation of unforgettable holiday experiences that will benefit local businesses and communities on, and surrounding, the river.”

Minister Martin also welcomed the announcement of more than €6.5 million in funding for 38 projects under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. The scheme provides funding for the development, promotion and maintenance of outdoor amenities such as trails, walkways, cycleways, and blueways.

“The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme plays a significant role in developing and maintaining key outdoor assets throughout Ireland that are utilised by locals and visitors alike,” Minister Martin said.

“Successful delivery of these projects will encourage activities-based outdoor recreation and tourism in communities throughout the country. This will play a key role in developing environmentally sustainable tourism and allowing people to experience more closely the unique natural heritage of our country.”

Minister Noonan announces €1.35 million for Local Authority biodiversity projects

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, announced that over €1.35 million will be made available to local authorities in the Local Authority Biodiversity Grant Scheme. The scheme offers funding to assist Local Authority Biodiversity Officers, and Heritage Officers in Local Authorities without a Biodiversity Officer, with the implementation of projects that promote actions contained in the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021.

“Local Authorities have a hugely important role to play in addressing the biodiversity crisis, and we need their help to create new habitats, restore existing ones, tackle invasive species and raise awareness of nature locally, regionally and nationally”, Minister Noonan said.

“More than ever, people are making space for wildness in their lives – in gardens, on farms, and in public spaces – and reaping all sorts of benefits, not least of which is the sense of wellbeing and peace that we get from spending time in nature. My Department’s investment in local projects through local authorities will support public efforts to deliver benefits for biodiversity, and for society too.”

Minister Hackett opens the Organic Farming Scheme

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, announced the reopening of the Organic Farming Scheme for new applications from farmers. The reopening is expected to result in an increase of up to 30% in the number of farmers farming organically in Ireland this year.

“This is a really good scheme which provides farmers with the support they need to go organic so I would really encourage those considering conversion to engage with it,” Minister Hackett said. “I promised to help the growing number of farmers in Ireland who want to farm organically – this scheme does that.”

“Going organic can lead to higher prices and more sustainable way of farming. It’s less intensive, and it embraces nature and natural processes to produce organic food, for which there is a growing demand both in Ireland and across Europe. And I’m delighted to see my Department helping farmers cater for that demand by reopening the scheme, with the extra funding and scope for so many more farmers to join.”

Minister O’Brien announces new Measures to support CE and TÚS schemes

Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development, Joe O’Brien TD, announced that additional supports will be made available for Community Employment (CE) and TÚS schemes. The extension of CE and TÚS participant contracts that would have come to an end during Level 5 restrictions on a number of occasions, the most recent being the end of March.

“All of these measures will provide further certainty to CE schemes, participants and the important community services they provide, while supporting long term unemployed during this challenging Covid environment”, Minister O’Brien commented.

“The measures that we are announcing today will provide certainty for CE and TÚS participants while high levels of public health restrictions remain in place. I would also like to re-assure participants of CE and TÚS projects that contracts due to end post 2nd July 2021, will be done on a planned and phased basis.”

Deputy Hourigan launches Green Party Position Paper on Public Banking

Green Party Finance and Health Spokesperson, Neasa Hourigan TD, has called for a review of regional and under-served community access to banking services with a view to establishing a material public banking system partially or fully supported by Credit Unions and An Post.

The Green Party Position Paper on Public Banking calls on the Minister for Finance to set aside the 2019 Indecon Report on Public Banking and begin a review of Credit Union and Post Office services. It also calls for an urgent review of regional access and access of underserved communities to banking services with a view to establishing a material public banking system in Ireland and how that public banking system might be partially or fully supported by existing infrastructure.

“Yesterday in the Dáil we heard speakers from every party/group in the house, in light of recent developments with Ulster Bank and Bank of Ireland, support some form of community or public bank model. Many looked to utilize the credit unions and An Post. The time has come for some action on Public Banking from the Government”, Deputy Hourigan said.