Our region was knocked down: Now is the time to look forward and bring the best of the past into the light and promote it for others to experience and enjoy.
In the last few days we received the news that the European Commission has adopted Ireland’s Territorial Just Transition Plan. This means that Offaly, Laois and the wider Midlands region can now realise the full transformative potential of this funding package.
Today, I welcome the news that €68m of the €169m allocated to the Just Transition Fund will be invested in transforming tourism in the region. This is a new and exciting opportunity and I look forward to this investment enhancing our unique, rich, living and industrial heritage.
This investment falls into two areas: €30m for the Midlands Trails Network of walking, waterways and cycling connections along, amongst other things, former Bord na Mona rail track. This is particularly exciting for Offaly and my thanks to Offaly County Council for their hard work on this.
The balance of today’s announcement, €38m focuses on low carbon infrastructure and experiences and smart solution development. I am really excited to see what communities and businesses of Laois and Offaly propose for their areas as they are best placed to develop tourism projects. Who better to promote a locality than those who are passionate about it? I have already heard some very interesting ideas from people in both counties and now is the time to be progressing them.
This funding will act as a catalyst for the transformation of the region, attracting further investment, creating jobs and boosting confidence in our localities. Our region was knocked down: Now is the time to look forward, bring the best of the past into the light and promote it for others to enjoy and experience also. My thanks to all involved in today’s announcement and in particular Failte Ireland for their submission under the Territorial Plan.