A new €1 billion fund has been launched by Minister for Rural & Community Development, Michael Ring for rural regeneration and development, according to Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon.

This fund is a great opportunity for towns in Kildare to seek further investment from state funds.  It is designed to support improvements in our smaller towns, villages and hinterlands to enhance their attractiveness for families and enhance the quality of life of rural communities.  The fund will also support job creation in rural areas.“The new Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will invest €1 billion of Exchequer funding over the next 10 years. The Fund provides an unprecedented opportunity for us to make a significant impact which will transform rural Ireland for the better.

“It is essential that Kildare County Council and community organisations here in Kildare make submissions for funding. This will be a competitive process open to public bodies and locally based organisations.

“The type of projects it will support will include:

· addressing infrastructural deficits in towns and villages, · encouraging enterprise, and

· enhancing heritage and community assets in rural areas.

“The Fund will target towns with a population of less than 10,000 people, as well as villages and outlying rural areas.

“In general, the Fund will provide up to 75% of the total value of a project.  A maximum of 80% of funding will be considered where community contributions form a significant element of the match-funding,” said Deputy Heydon.

Minister Michael Ring said: “The launch of this fund represents an unprecedented opportunity to make a significant and sustainable impact on rural communities. The €1 billion investment over the next 10 years will be targeted at strengthening the fabric of rural Ireland.   “The first call for proposals will be launched in the coming weeks and will focus on collaborative projects that will add value and have a transformative impact on rural areas.  The type of initiatives the fund will support will include addressing infrastructural deficits in towns and villages, encouraging entrepreneurship, and enhancing heritage and community assets in rural areas.”

The Government is working towards a first call for proposals under the Fund in late June, and further guidelines on the type of projects that can be funded will be made available at that stage.