Since my election as a TD to represent the people of Roscommon-South Leitrim I have been highlighting the need for more investment west of the Shannon. So I am glad to welcome today’s announcement of REDZ funding for a number of local areas.
The Roscommon, Cavan and Leitrim Bluway will receive €210,000, with €40,000 going to Manorhamilton and Roscommon getting €75,000;
On the other side of the Suck, Ballinasloe will benefit to the tune of €60,000 and other areas like Glenamaddy will receive €25,000.
The REDZ areas are “Rural Economic Development Zones” and were one of the main recommendations of the CEDRA report which was chaired by Pat Spillane and included Professor Cathal O’Donoghue who was head of the secretariat.
Up and down the west of Ireland there are community groups who have been doing sterling work and fighting against the tide in an effort to bring about social and economic development. This funding is a small step in recognising their efforts and in encouraging them to come together again and to renew their commitment to our rural way of life and our small towns and villages.
We must be fully aware that this is but a “pilot” project which will challenge communities to dig deeper and build on past achievement and to avail of support again in the next round of REDZ funding when the pilot project is completed.
This funding, in itself, will not be the solution to all our problems but it can be a real catalyst if communities get together and try to find innovative ways to revitalise our communities and sow the seeds of hope again.