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Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme 2023

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has announced funding of €4.1 million to develop and enhance over 150 outdoor recreation projects.

The investment, under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS), will be key to enhancing our mountain trails, forest walks, cycleways, rivers, lakes and beaches.

It will also provide a boost to local economies by attracting more visitors to our rural communities.

Up to €30,000 will be invested in each project under today’s round of funding – with a focus being placed on small scale enhancements, upgrades and repairs.

The Waterford projects being funded include:

Waterford ORIS Recipients

Announcing the funding, Minister Humphreys said:

“With summer just a couple of months away, I’m really pleased to announce over €4.1 million to develop over 150 outdoor recreation projects right across Rural Ireland. The investment I’m announcing today will greatly enhance the natural amenities right on our doorstep – from our walkways, mountain trails and forest walks, to our cycleways, beaches and rivers. I believe the projects receiving funding today will play an important role in attracting more visitors to our rural towns and villages. So my big message as Minister today is to get out and explore those hidden gems in your community. The clocks are going forward this weekend – a perfect reason to go on that hike or cycle and enjoy the great outdoors.”

Minister Humphreys continued:

“The Government’s Rural Development policy, ‘Our Rural Future’ and the new National Outdoor Recreation Strategy, ‘Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors’, have together set the stage to strengthen and support the sustainable development of the outdoor recreation sector in Ireland for years to come. The health benefits from engaging in outdoor activity combined with the economic and social benefits that can be achieved by this investment for rural Ireland, will no doubt serve us well in to the future. That is why I am making this funding available today and I look forward to making further announcement for larger scale investment in this sector in the coming weeks.”

A full list of successful projects is available here .

The announcement today will also benefit local communities with new or enhanced outdoor facilities while also helping to support local economies by continuing to offer domestic and international visitors an attractive and exciting array of outdoor amenities.

This funding will be invested in 151 outdoor recreation projects, bringing the total number of projects funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development, since its establishment in 2017, to almost 1,600 nationwide.

These projects, under Measure 1, are to receive funding of up to €30,000 and will be delivered by September 2025. Further announcements of successful projects under Measures 2 and 3 of ORIS 2023 will be made in the coming weeks.

The funding announced today is in addition to the €2.3m which was announced in November 2023 for 50 projects under the Project Development Measure of ORIS.


Waterford receives €506,693 in funding for Built Heritage

Department logo

Malcolm Noonan TD, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has announced funding under 2 schemes for Protected Structures and historic buildings – the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS) 2024 and the Historic Structures Fund (HSF) 2024.

In Waterford, funding of €242,400 will be provided for 27 projects under the BHIS scheme and will support  works such as   the repair of historic  roofs,  walls and chimneys, repair of joinery and  repair of historic stained glass  for private and public buildings in the city and county . This includes  €73,793  which has been ring- fenced  specifically for thatch house projects

Funding of €264,000 has been allocated  for 4 projects under the HSF  €50,000  for Mount Melleray  €50,000  Whitfield Court, €50,000  for  Curraghmore House  and €114,000 for St Augustine’s Church, Abbeyside, Dungarvan.

NTA publishes first-ever survey of walking, wheeling & cycling in Waterford

Walking and cycling take 16,000 cars off Waterford roads every day, according to Walking and Cycling Index 52% of adults in Waterford walk or wheel at least five times a week, 16% cycle at least once a week.

The National Transport Authority has today published the findings of the first-ever survey of walking, wheeling and cycling in Waterford Metropolitan Area, which reveals that 52% of residents walk or wheel (meaning the use of a wheelchair or mobility scooter) at least five times a week, while 16% of residents cycle at least once a week.

The Walking and Cycling Index provides the largest-ever assessment of walking, wheeling and cycling in Ireland. Delivered in collaboration with Waterford City and County Council and Kilkenny County Council, the National Transport Authority and sustainable transport charity , the Index was expanded last year to include Waterford alongside Cork, Limerick/Shannon, Dublin and Galway Metropolitan Areas. 18 city regions in the UK also produce reports.

The Waterford Metropolitan Area Walking and Cycling Index is based on an independent demographically representative survey of more than 1,100 residents from across Waterford Metropolitan Area aged 16 and above, not just those who walk, wheel or cycle. The Metropolitan Area is centred on the City of Waterford and its suburbs including Passage East, Slieverue, and Ferrybank in Kilkenny.

It reveals that 68% of residents are in favour of additional investment in walking and wheeling infrastructure while 63% of residents are in favour of additional investment in cycling infrastructure. This comes amid a growing demand for active travel with 53% expressing their desire to walk, wheel more in the future, and 31% expressing a desire to cycle more.

Key findings from the 2023 Waterford Metropolitan Area Walking and Cycling Index:

  • 52% of adult residents walk 5 or more days a week, 64% use a car 5 or more days a week while 16% of adults cycle at least once a week.
  • 76% of residents support building cycle tracks physically separated from traffic and pedestrians even where that means less room for other traffic.
  • Every day those who walk and cycle takes nearly 16,000 cars off the road in the Waterford Metropolitan Area. If all of these cars were in a traffic jam it would tail back 78 kilometres equivalent to the distance from Waterford City to Rosslare.
  • Residents walking, wheeling and cycling create an annual economic benefit for individuals and the Waterford Metropolitan Area of €80.5 million.
  • Walking and cycling improve public health in the Waterford Metropolitan Area and saves the HSE €2.67 million equivalent to the cost of over 47,900 GP appointments.
  • Those walking and cycling instead of driving, save greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 61,300 flights from Dublin Airport to London Heathrow Airport.
  • There is a €1.40 net economic benefit for each km cycled instead of driven and €0.94 net economic benefit for each km walked instead of driven.

Environmental Benefits
Every day nearly 16,000 return walking, wheeling and cycling trips are made daily in the Waterford Metropolitan Area by people that could have used a car. If these cars were all in a traffic jam it would tail back 78 kilometres equivalent to the distance from Waterford City to Rosslare.

The report also found that walking, wheeling and cycling save 4,300 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in Waterford each year, which is equivalent to about 61,300 flights from Dublin Airport to London Heathrow Airport.

Health Benefits and Inclusivity
The benefits of walking, wheeling and cycling to the Waterford Metropolitan Area are outlined in the report, with the physical activity benefits of walking, wheeling and cycling preventing 186 long-term health conditions annually, valued at approx. €2.67 million equivalent to the cost of over 47,900 GP appointments.

The Index showed that residents’ travel choices and their perceptions of walking, wheeling, and cycling vary between different groups. It found that 53% of residents without a disability walk or wheel at least five days a week in Waterford, compared to 46% of residents with a disability. 5% of residents with a disability cycle at least once a week compared to 17% without. It also found that while 53% of women and 52% of men walk or wheel at least five days a week, there is a gender gap when it comes to cycling with 23% of men cycling at least once a week, compared with 9% of women.

What Residents Said Will Help Them Walk or Cycle More
When asked what would help them walk or wheel more, Waterford Metropolitan Area residents want better footpath surfaces including dropped kerbs at crossing points, more parks and green spaces close to home, and nicer places along streets to stop and rest.
When asked what would help them cycle more, residents wanted infrastructural improvements such as traffic-free paths through parks or greenways, signed cycle routes along quieter streets, and cycle tracks along roads physically separated from traffic and pedestrians.

There is evidence too that residents support the development of more protected cycle infrastructure within the Waterford Metropolitan Area, with 76% of residents supporting building more cycle tracks physically separated from traffic and pedestrians, even where that means less room for other traffic.

Creating a Better Place to Live
Waterford residents also recognise the importance of liveable neighbourhoods. 79% agree that increasing space for residents socialising, walking, wheeling and cycling on their local main street would improve their local area. 80% of residents support creating low-traffic neighbourhoods where groups of streets, bordered by main roads, have ‘through’ motor vehicle traffic greatly reduced. 86% support the creation of 20-minute neighbourhood – neighbourhoods where it is easy for people to meet most of their everyday needs in 20 minute return walk.

Economic Benefits of Active Travel
The report also found that walking, wheeling and cycling creates an annual economic benefit for individuals and the Waterford Metropolitan Area of €80.5m. This includes €1.40 of a net economic benefit for each km cycled instead of driven and €0.94 benefit of each km walked instead of driven. These costs were determined through an analysis of travel time, vehicle operating costs, health benefits, air quality and taxation.

Speaking on the Walking and Cycling Index, Cllr Joe Conway, Mayor of Waterford City & County Council said: “As Mayor of Waterford City and County Council, I am pleased to welcome the first Waterford Metropolitan Area Walking and Cycling Index. This report, which covers both the County Waterford and County Kilkenny areas of the city, provides useful insights into the behaviours and opinions of residents towards walking and cycling. As a long-term resident, I have viewed at first hand and with satisfaction, the growth in active travel. The enclosed data underscores the strong level of support in Waterford for walking and cycling.

“This report indicates that there is broad public support for active travel investment in Waterford, with 68% of residents wanting to see more investment in walking infrastructure, and 63% wanting to see more investment in cycling infrastructure, to create a more sustainable, liveable city, where people and businesses can thrive. Waterford City and County Council, supported by the National Transport Authority, have done some great work in the past number of years with many more projects planned.

“The benefits and support for active travel in the Metropolitan area are clear from this report, and Waterford City and County Council will continue with efforts to make Waterford a healthy sustainable, and attractive place for all.”

Cllr. Michael Davis, Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council said: “As Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council, I welcome the Waterford Metropolitan Area Walking and Cycling Index. The report gives us a great sense of what type of investment and infrastructure people in Ferrybank and South Kilkenny want and will benefit the forthcoming Ferrybank Mobility Management Plan. Projects like the South East Greenway connecting New Ross to the heart of the new North Quays will strengthen links between Kilkenny and Waterford in a sustainable and attractive manner.”

Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA said: “We’re delighted to roll out the largest survey into walking, wheeling and cycling in Ireland. Over the past few years, the NTA has been working with local authorities across the country, including Waterford, to deliver safe pedestrian and cycle infrastructure that encourages more people to engage in active travel.
“It’s clear from the latest Index that more people in Waterford want to cycle and walk each day. By encouraging people to make active travel a part of their daily journey, we can all play our part in creating a more sustainable future. The NTA will continue to accelerate our efforts to roll out walking and cycling infrastructure in Waterford and other cities across Ireland.”


Media Contacts:
Sabrina D’Angelo/ Q4PR/ 086-0323397/
Paul Nallon / Q4PR / 086-8694041 /

Waterford City and County Council receives €9M to tackle long-term vacancy & dereliction

The Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Ministers Eamon Ryan and Darragh O’Brien announced details on the 11th July of a €150 million fund which will be allocated to tackle long-term vacancy and dereliction in towns and cities across Ireland. Waterford City and County Council have received a €9M allocation. This was one of the highest allocations, second only to Dublin City Council, in the country.

Announced as part of the quarterly Housing for All progress update, the funding will be available to local authorities for towns and cities eligible for the Urban Regeneration Development Fund (URDF). Within County Waterford the URDF centres are Waterford City, Dungarvan and Tramore.

The allocation of funding received follows the comprehensive submission by the Council where it identified suitable projects to increase the housing stock within the Metropolitan Area and Dungarvan. The Council will receive a grant for the entire 100% cost of acquiring suitable long term vacant and derelict properties or sites identified within the Counties URDF Settlements.

Michael Walsh, the CEO of Waterford City and County Council said:

“I am delighted with our allocation of €9M to tackle long term vacancy and dereliction in Waterford. This will transform our key settlements and promote vibrant communities in Waterford City, Dungarvan and Tramore.”

Kieran Kehoe, Director of Service with responsibility for Planning, Corporate, Culture, HR & IS in Waterford City and County Council said:

“This level of funding reflects the high priority that the Government has placed on boosting accommodation and tackling dereliction both nationally and within County Waterford. It also complements several existing schemes which the Council already have in place to tackle vacancy and dereliction. Through this fund we will increase the pace at which vacant and derelict buildings are brought back into productive use as new homes for people.”

The URDF Call 3 fund will help restore and transform the urban heart of many of our communities. It is envisaged that it will provide more homes for people in sustainable locations, allowing them to live close to local services, amenities and employment. Making use of our existing stock in a more efficient way makes clear environmental sense. For further information on the fund and derelict sites, please contact:

85 drownings last year prompts call for caution near water

As a weekend of aquatic activity approaches, Water Safety Ireland has issued an appeal calling for caution when visiting waterways nationwide. The appeal comes as figures released for 2022 show that 85 people drowned nationwide, an increase of 5 over the previous year. 60 were male, 25 female.

In the last five years, an average of 90 people drowned annually and accounted for nearly 40% of all road and water deaths combined*. (*Road: 714; Water: 449: Total 1,163)

“85 people drowned in 2022, five more than in 2021 and although this is lower than the annual average of 90 drownings every year, it is still a tragic unnecessary loss of life,” commented Minister Heather Humphreys, Minister for Rural and Community Development. “Ireland is currently enjoying warmer weather, however our waterways are still quite cool,” added Minister Humphreys, “Please swim at lifeguarded waterways or in designated bathing areas that are traditionally known to be safe. Stay within your depth, supervise children closely and never use inflatable toys on open water as you can be swept from shore by currents and unexpected breezes.”

“Ireland has some of the most beautiful waterways in the world but people should never overestimate their ability in the water or underestimate the risks.”, said Humphreys. “Drownings can happen quickly and silently and I appeal to people to have regular water safety conversations with loved ones so that we have a safe enjoyable summer ahead.”


Water Safety Ireland’s National Water Safety Awareness Week Appeal:

  1. Swim at Lifeguarded waterways between the red and yellow flags. A full list of lifeguarded waterways is available at If you cannot get to a lifeguarded waterway, swim at designated bathing areas that are traditionally known to be safe.
  2. Swim within your depth – stay within your depth.
  3. Supervise children closely and never use inflatable toys in open water.
  4. When walking exposed sandbanks be aware that incoming tides can lead to stranding. Carry a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof pouch.
  5. Wear a lifejacket when boating or angling from shore and make sure that it is fitted with a crotch strap.
  6. If you see someone in difficulty, these simple steps may save a life:
  7. Shout to the casualty to orientate and encourage them to shore.
  8. Reach out with a long object such a branch or a piece of clothing but do not enter the water yourself.
  9. Throw a ringbuoy or any floating object and call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.


Conservation Advice Grant Scheme for Vacant Traditional Farmhouses

The Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage is running a pilot scheme to provide grants for expert conservation advice to owners of vacant farmhouses in private ownership who are availing of and/or considering the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant.

The Conservation Advice Grant Scheme for Vacant Traditional Farmhouses will provide a grant of up to €7,500 (ex VAT) to cover the cost of having a conservation expert with proven and appropriate expertise to visit the property, conduct a survey, and compile tailored conservation advice for the property owner. The report will outline the condition of the building, suggest conservation repairs and improvements which would improve the building and enhance the building’s character, energy efficiency, integrity, and amenity.

What kind of buildings qualify

Traditional (also known as ‘vernacular’) farmhouses are a key part of our rural landscape and shared heritage. Sometimes described as ‘cottages’, these buildings generally comprise modest houses constructed using local materials and traditional techniques by ‘ordinary’ people using locally available materials such as thatch, stone, slate, earth, wattle and unsawn timber. Later on corrugated iron, despite its imported, industrial origin, was also used.

Please see the following links for further information:

Water Safety Appeal from Coast Guard, RNLI & Water Safety Ireland for bank holiday weekend

The Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have issued a joint water safety appeal as people are expected to enjoy the water this bank holiday weekend.

Even in good weather, water temperatures remain cold and the organisations have advised that those taking part in any waterbased activity should make sure they have the proper equipment and know how to do it safely.

The Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland advise to always carry a means of calling for help and to keep it within reach at all times. When kayaking or paddle-boarding close to shore, conditions can turn quickly and wearing a buoyancy aid or lifejacket can make the critical difference. If you unexpectedly find yourself in the water and wearing a lifejacket, you have given yourself vital time to be brought to safety.

While the good weather is set to continue, always check the forecast, tide times and sea conditions before setting off. Get regular updates if planning to be out for any length of time. And be prepared to change your plans or cancel the trip if the forecast is unfavourable.

For those swimming, remember to acclimatise slowly, wear a bright swimming cap and consider a tow float to increase visibility. Never swim alone and always ensure that your activity is being monitored by a colleague. Swim in areas that are lifeguarded or are known locally to be safe.

Irish Coast Guard Operations manager Micheál O’Toole said; “We appeal to everybody to plan for and attend to their personal safety. We again are warning on the dangers of using inflatable toys such as LiLo’s on or near the water, be it seaside, lake or river. Please do not bring such items with you. We again express our thanks to all members of the emergency services who will be on duty over the weekend, in particular volunteer members of Coast Guard, RNLI, Community Inshore rescue boats and mountain rescue teams. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend.”

RNLI Water Safety Lead Linda-Gene Byrne said: ‘The fine weather and brighter evenings will encourage more people onto the water and it’s great to see people out and about and enjoying it. If you fall in unexpectedly, remember to ‘Float to Live’ – lie on your back and spread your arms and legs, gently moving them to keep afloat. Keep floating until you feel your breath coming back before calling for help or swimming ashore if nearby. Taking a few minutes to check you have taken all the necessary equipment and advice for your activity and knowing what to do in an emergency will give peace of mind and help prevent accidents.’

Water Safety Ireland’s Deputy CEO Roger Sweeney said: “This weekend, please remember that although air temperatures have risen, our waterways are still too cold for extended swims. A full moon on Saturday will make the coastline more precarious and rip currents will be stronger. Swim within your depth at the lifeguarded waterways listed at A full moon also creates lower low tides that will expose even greater areas of the coastline which often tempts walkers to explore sandbanks. Be aware of being trapped by incoming tides, carry a fully charged mobile phone, and please provide constant uninterrupted adult supervision for any children in your care.”

The Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland also wish to express their condolences to the families and friends of the two young men who lost their lives in jet ski accidents on Carlingford Lough and on Lough Derg.

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or you think that they are in trouble, dial 112 or use marine VHF radio Channel 16 and ask for the Coast Guard.

Our Rural Future: Waterford towns and villages set to benefit from Town and Village Renewal Scheme

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, recently announced over €27 million in funding that will combat dereliction and breathe new life into rural towns and villages.

The announcement represents the largest ever investment under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and will see a range of landmark projects delivered across Rural Ireland.

Cappoquin, Clonea Power, Dunhill, Tallow, Passage East and Tramore were among the towns and villages set to benefit from a share of over €675,000.  Investment will support the creation of a community garden in Cappoquin, a contemplative garden in Clonea Power, the creation of remote working hubs in Dunhill, harnessing the potential future opportunities for Passage East harbour and a feasibility study for the development of a multi-cultural centre in Tramore.

The major package announced by Minister Humphreys today comprises of four strands which include investment in 75 Town and Village Projects nationwide; funding to purchase and re-develop vacant and derelict buildings and convert them into community facilities; the upgrade of shopfronts and building facades in 26 towns under the Streetscape Enhancement Measure; and funding for planning and design works on a range of projects that are at an early stage of development.

Announcing the funding, Minister Humphreys said, “I am delighted to announce a record €27 million in funding under my Department’s Town and Village Renewal Scheme.  This is all about tackling the scourge of vacancy and dereliction in our rural towns and villages.  It’s about taking old buildings and giving them a new lease of life.

“And it’s about rejuvenating the centre of our towns by developing public plazas, town parks, community gardens and sports facilities for the benefit of local families.

“This investment today will breathe new life into rural towns and villages across every single county.

“It’s the largest ever investment under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and demonstrates my passion and ambition for our rural communities.”

Richie Walsh, Head of Rural Development with Waterford City and County Council added, “This investment shows real confidence in the potential of our rural towns and villages.  From enhancing our public realm spaces, creating dedicated hubs for remote working, and investing in the improvement of building facades and facilitating artwork installations, our rural towns and villages can and will become the heart of our communities once again.”

Minister Naughton announces Round Two of the Safe Routes to School Programme

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD, alongside the National Transport Authority and Santa Claus, today announced that 108 schools will be included in the Safe Routes to School Programme.

The Safe Routes to School Programme aims to create safer walking and cycling routes within communities, alleviate congestion at the school gates and increase the number of students who walk or cycle to school by providing improvements to walking and cycling facilities. The launch of the second round of the programme today will see over 37,000 students across Ireland benefit from safer infrastructure and encourage them to cycle, walk and wheel to school.

Speaking from her home county of Galway at the launch of round two of the Safe Routes to School Programme, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD said: “I am delighted to be able to bring some festive cheer to schools nationwide by confirming that thousands of more children nationwide will soon benefit from safer infrastructure which will allow them to walk, cycle and scoot to school every day.

“In recent months I have had the privilege of visiting schools across the country and have seen first-hand the positive impact that Safe Routes to School projects are having on our children’s daily lives. During these visits the message was loud and clear that there is a huge appetite for the continued rollout of the Safe Routes to School Programme in our villages, towns, and cities across the country. Now, having secured the necessary funding as part of Budget 2023, it is great to see the programme continue to go from strength to strength. My ambition is that every child in Ireland will have the option to make their daily commute to the classroom by foot, bicycle or scooter in a way that they are safe and protected; one that I am confident is shared amongst children, their parents, teachers and the wider school community.”

Concluding, Minister Naughton said “I want to thank all of the children that are joining us here today in Scoil Fursa, Galway City, for their help in sharing the good news with other boys and girls across the country. Special thanks also to Santa Clause for taking time out of his busy schedule to be here with us this this morning. ”

CEO of the National Transport Authority, Anne Graham said: “The National Transport Authority is responsible for ensuring the successful delivery of Safe Routes to School projects right across the country. Our Active Travel team is already working closely with local authorities on the rollout of the Round 1 schemes, and it has been encouraging to see more young people cycling, walking/scooting to school as a result.

“In collaboration with An Taisce Green-Schools and the local authorities, we will now begin working on delivering the second tranche of projects. By working with school communities at a local level to make journeys safer than ever before, we can continue encouraging young people to use more sustainable modes of transport.”

The programme is funded by the Department of Transport through the National Transport Authority (NTA) and is supported by the Department of Education. An Taisce’s Green-Schools is co-ordinating the programme, while funding will be made available to local authorities which will play a key part in delivering the infrastructure. €20m has been allocated for projects included in Round 2 with the funds coming from each local authority’s annual allocation for Active Travel works.

In recent weeks, a number of schools that took part in Round 1 have started seeing their projects come to fruition including Limerick’s first School Street at An Mhodhscoil on O’Connell Ave in the city centre, and a new School Zone at Bunscoil Rinn an Chablaigh in Cobh, County Cork, creating a safer and calmer area to support children walking, cycling or scooting.

The list of schools receiving support under the Safe Routes to School Programme Round 2 can be found here.

Community and inclusion prioritised by Government as it extends Creative Ireland for another five years

  • Creative Ireland Programme will continue until 2027
  • Over 7,500 creative initiatives completed to date
  • Over 100,000 young people now participate in Cruinniú na nÓg
  • New initiatives in Creative Industries, Creative Health and Wellbeing, Climate Action and Social Sustainability to be delivered
  • New Shared Island element to be introduced

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D. has welcomed the Government’s support for her proposal to extend the Creative Ireland Programme to 2027. Along with established programmes of work in Creative Communities and Creative Youth, new priorities will be pursued in the Creative Industries, Creative Health and Wellbeing and Climate Action and Social Sustainability. The Programme will also develop a major Shared Island dimension with support from the Department of the Taoiseach. This extension was approved by Government this week.

In 2017 the Creative Ireland Programme launched as an all-of-Government culture and wellbeing initiative committed to the vision that every person in Ireland should have the opportunity to realise their full creative potential.

Since then thousands of opportunities have been created to unlock an ecosystem of creativity. This was achieved by building strong partnerships between central and local Government, artists and the wider creative community and most of all the communities in which the projects were delivered.

Minister Catherine Martin said:

“My Department will continue its work with partners across central and local Government, through the Creative Ireland Programme, to deploy the power of creativity in support of wellbeing in every community.  While I was keen for Creative Ireland to retain its priorities around young people, local communities and opportunities for the most disadvantaged, I am delighted Government has agreed to place a greater focus on health and wellbeing, our creative industries, climate action, and social sustainability.  I am particularly keen that, through this programme, we enhance the opportunities for the most disadvantaged to engage with creativity.”

Through Creative Ireland, the Government emphasised the supporting role of culture and creativity across policies in education, health and wellbeing, innovation, international relations, sustainable local development and increased support for the creative industries.

In five years the Creative Ireland Programme has emerged as a positive framework for change. Over 7,500 community-led creative initiatives nationwide have promoted participation, inclusion and cultural expression. These include initiatives such as Cruinniú na nÓg, which provides thousands of Irish children with the opportunity to express themselves creatively.

Creative Ireland has led in policy development by supporting conferences where new ideas around the role of creativity in education and young people’s lives, the role of culture in our health care system, and the role of service design across the public service were discussed.

Programme highlights include:

Cruinniú na Óg launched in 2017. It is now a key event in the cultural life of Ireland’s young people and is the only event of its kind in the world. In 2022 over 101,000 young people participated in 1,690 free cultural events led by more than 1,200 creative practitioners. These events provided young people with the opportunity to try something new and demonstrate their own creative abilities.

Creative Climate Action. This unique initiative pulls together the skills and expertise of the creative community, climate activists, NGOs, academics, local government organisations and communities to create projects that will raise awareness and change the behaviours that have helped exacerbate the climate crisis. The second Creative Climate Action fund has just been launched with financial support from the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications and the Department of the Taoiseach.

In response to the isolation caused by the lockdown in 2020, the Creative Ireland Programme worked with the Mobile Music Machine to bring the joy and energy of live music to care homes and hospital settings around the country. Travelling continually throughout the crisis, the Mobile Music Machine delivered over 1650 concerts by more than 100 musicians in nursing and care homes in 23 counties.

In 2022 the programme piloted six creative Shared Island projects to harness the power of cultural creativity to bring communities together and to strengthen our sense of shared identity. Government is now fully committed to the project with a projected spend of €6 million over three years.

The Creative Ireland Programme led by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media is designed to promote creativity as a strategy for wellbeing, social cohesion and economic success. Its core proposition is that participation in cultural and creative activity promotes individual, community and national wellbeing. The Department strives through Creative Ireland to promote understanding and appreciation of the value of creativity in all its forms and embed creativity across public policy.


New roadside drug testing system launched at Christmas and New Year road safety appeal

  • New drug driving testing system (Securetec® Drugwipe 6s) more portable, quicker and tests for more drugs
  • Gardaí launch six week Christmas road safety enforcement campaign
  • 86 fatalities and 765* serious injuries in Christmas / New Year period over last five years/ last year
  • 146 road deaths in 2022 – 146 empty seats at the table on Christmas Day, up 27 on last year


 A new preliminary roadside drug driving testing device, which can test for a greater range of drugs at the roadside was launched today at the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Gardai Síochána Christmas and New Year road safety appeal. The launch took place in University College Cork.

The new Securetec® Drugwipe 6s roadside drug testing device, which has been introduced by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS) and rolled out to Gardaí across the country, works like an antigen test. It is more portable, faster at delivering results and can not only test for Cannabis, Cocaine, Benzodiazepines and Opiates, this device can, unlike its predecessor, test for Amphetamine and Methamphetamine.

The new preliminary drug testing device will be operational from today Thursday 1 December by An Garda Síochána, who have announced an intensive six-week road safety enforcement campaign across the country to Christmas and New Year.

For An Garda Síochána, one primary goal will be to reduce the number of people driving while under the influence of alcohol and illegal drugs, but they will be also targeting other road traffic offences such as mobile phone use, speeding and non-wearing of seatbelts.

Research by the RSA and An Garda Síochána revealed that over the last five years there were 86* fatalities and 765* serious injuries over the Christmas and New Year period.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton said: “I welcome the introduction of this new drug testing device which is a key action to be delivered under Ireland’s Road Safety Strategy (Action 163) by the end of 2022. We know that the majority of drivers don’t drive under the influence of drugs but there are still some who persist in this dangerous behaviour. As we come into the festive season, remember that drugs and alcohol and driving do not mix under any circumstance. I’d like to remind drivers that all drink or drug driving penalties carry a disqualification period.”

Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman said “I am pleased to be here today to launch An Garda Síochána’s Christmas and New Year’s road safety campaign which will run from today until 3rd January 2023. This information-led campaign will focus on locations and times where fatal and serious injury collisions have occurred over the last 12 years.

One of our primary goals is to reduce the number of people driving while under the influence of alcohol and illegal drugs. Today also marks the introduction of a new piece of equipment which will increase our capability to test drivers for the presence of illegal drugs. The DrugWipe 6S is now in use by Gardaí and the streamlined testing process will assist us in our goals of bringing offenders before the courts and making our roads a safer place.

The Assistant Commissioner added that “this year has seen 146 fatalities on our roads which is 146 empty seats at the table on Christmas Day. We all agree that number is far too high and we must work together to keep each other safe. In December 2021, 19 people died in road collisions, our thoughts and prayers are with their friends and family.

Professor Denis Cusack, Director of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS), said: “Combinations of drugs and of drugs and alcohol can have a very serious effect on a person’s safe driving ability which may result in serious injuries or death. We need to address this combined alcohol-and-drugs-driving danger whilst also ensuring drivers continue taking prescribed medications for safe and healthy driving. This enhanced roadside drug testing system, which is to be used from today by An Garda Síóchána is extremely timely as we see a continued increase in drug detection in drivers. In 2016, the MBRS tested 1,113 samples for drugs other than alcohol. By 2021, that figure has increased to 4,321 – a near four-fold increase. While alcohol still remains the most frequently detected intoxicant in driving in Ireland, cannabis is the second most frequently found intoxicant and its detection in drivers is continuing to increase, with cocaine being the third most commonly found intoxicant drug detected.”

Professor Cusack added, “This newly introduced drug testing system (not unlike the Covid antigen test method) can test for Cannabis, Cocaine, Benzodiazepines, Opiates, and in addition Amphetamine and Methamphetamine, at the roadside. The advantages of the new system are that oral fluid collection is very rapid, the test time is reduced to 2-8 minutes, and the device is easily transported with no other device being required to read the drug results. This enhanced roadside drug testing system to be used by the Gardaí is timely as drug use in Irish society continues to increase and diversify which also translates into more dangerous intoxicated driving.”

Mr. Sam Waide, CEO, Road Safety Authority said: “I am urging all road users to act responsibly and to not drink or drug drive when using the roads throughout the Christmas and New Year period. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs doesn’t happen by accident, it happens by choice – those choices could have catastrophic consequences. I would appeal to all road users not to take risks on the road and to make safer choices however you use the road. Slow down, don’t drink or drug drive, wear your seatbelt and watch out for cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and horse riders this festive season.”

Mr. Waide added, “if you are planning to head out socialising, remember to plan how you are going to get home in advance. Designate a driver or organise a taxi, hackney, minibus, or public transport. Be aware too of the danger of drink driving the morning after.”

Drivers are being reminded that the Coca Cola Designated driver campaign is running again this year. The scheme offers free soft drinks and water to anyone acting as a designated driver on a night out with friends or family.

146 people have died on the roads to date in 2022 – this represents an increase of 27 on the same day last year. Separately, 1,174 people were seriously injured on our roads this year up to 27 November 2022.

Minister Humphreys announces €640,000 Outdoor Recreation Funding Boost for Waterford

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, recently launched Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors, an ambitious and transformational National Outdoor Recreation Strategy.

Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors was developed in partnership with Comhairle na Tuaithe and is a collaborative cross-government strategy that reflects the views of stakeholders and the public.  The new strategy will set the stage to strengthen and support the sustainable development of the outdoor recreation sector in Ireland for years to come bringing huge economic and health benefits to communities across the country.

Locally, ‘Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors’ will see the establishment of county structures including County Outdoor Recreation Committees and County Stakeholder Forums which will bring all the key stakeholders together. It will also support the development of County Outdoor Recreation Plans identifying the amenities that are in the County and the gaps, as well as agreeing the key priorities for the county to create a more strategic approach and ensure value for money.

Building on this ground-up, locally led approach, the Minister also announced €14 million for the development of 59 outdoor recreation amenities and to support outdoor pursuits such as hiking, mountaineering, kayaking, and cycling.

Two such successful projects are located in Waterford and are based on funding applications submitted by Waterford City and County Council during 2022.

Cappoquin received a further funding boost to follow up on the recently announced RRDF funding of over €5 million. Under this current round of Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS) funding, €500,000 was allocated to Phase I of the development of Cappoquin Railway Bridge Loop Walk.

The scope of this current phase, which is subject to planning approval by An Bord Pleanála is the development of a waterfront section between Millwheel Park and Cappoquin Rowing Club Grounds. The ultimate goal of this and subsequent phases will be the development of the entire 1km looped walking route which will develop the iconic Cappoquin Railway Viaduct, the Old Red Bridge as an integral part of the trail, in a future phase.

The ever-popular Anne Valley Walk has also received a funding boost of €142,424 in order to raise a 900-metre section of the trail which has been prone to flooding and meant that temporary closure of this section of the walk was necessary from time to time, during winter weather events. The Anne Valley Walk is a simply wonderful example of an amenity developed through the generosity and civic pride of local landowners and the wider community. The walk is fully accessible to those with reduced mobility including buggies, wheelchairs etc.

The route which winds its way through the scenic Anne Valley wetland and woodland area, connecting Dunhill with the seaside village of Annestown, is brought to life with information on the flora and fauna, as well as picnic and seating areas to relax and enjoy your surroundings.

Welcoming this latest ORIS funding announcement, Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr. John O’Leary said that “Waterford City and County Council is looking forward to working with all stakeholders with regard to these two exciting projects over the coming months and years.  The Anne Valley Walk is already one of Waterford’s most popular recreational trails, while the development of the Cappoquin Railway Loop Walk project has the potential to be equally as important an amenity in the west of the county”.

Cllr. O’Leary went onto congratulate the staff of the Rural Economic Development section of Waterford City and County Council and the communities involved in drafting and submitting the successful funding applications.


Ciste Chroí Cónaithe (Bailte) leathnaithe chuig cathracha agus ceantair thuaithe

Beidh deontas suas go dtí €30,000 ar a mhéad ar fáil chun réadmhaoine folmha a athchóiriú le cónaí iontu mar an phríomháit chónaithe phríobháideach, lena n-áirítear áit chónaithe a dhéanamh as réadmhaoin nach raibh in úsáid roimhe seo mar áit chónaithe. Beidh seo faoi réir uasteorainneacha do na cineálacha oibre atá sonraithe thíos ag féachaint do mheasúnú costais réasúnta a bheith déanta ag an údarás áitiúil. Tá costas CBL na hoibre san áireamh sa deontas.

Nuair a mheastar go sáróidh na costais athchóirithe an gnáthdheontas suas le €30,000, beidh suim deontais bhreise suas le €20,000 ar a mhéad ar fáil nuair a bheidh sé deimhnithe ag an iarratasóir go bhfuil an réadmhaoin folamh (i.e. contúirteach agus dainséarach ó thaobh struchtúir de) agus dá réir is suas le €50,000 ar a mhéad an deontas a bheidh ar fáil do réadmhaoin thréigthe. I gcás deontas breise maidir le réadmhaoin thréigthe, beidh tuairisc neamhspleách arna hullmhú ag gairmí atá cáilithe go cuí (e.g. suirbhéir cainníochta, innealtóir agus mar sin de) ag teastáil le cur ar aghaidh in éineacht leis an iarratas ina ndeimhneofar go bhfuil an réadmhaoin tréigthe (i.e. contúirteach agus dainséarach ó thaobh struchtúir de).

Beidh ar dhaoine atá ag cur isteach ar an deontas a dheimhniú ar an bhfoirm iarratais cibé an ag déanamh iarratais ar an deontas athchóirithe réadmhaoine foilmhe agus sin amháin atá siad nó an ag déanamh iarratais ar an deontas athchóirithe réadmhaoine foilmhe lena n-áirítear an deontas breise réadmhaoine foilmhe atá siad.

Ní mór réadmhaoine a bheidh le breithniú chun a áireamh a bheith folamh le dhá bhliain nó níos faide agus gur roimh 1993 a tógadh iad. Chun críocha na scéime seo, meastar réadmhaoin a bheith folamh más rud é go bhfuil sí folamh agus gan chónaí le tréimhse dhá bhliain nó níos faide. Is féidir deimhniú folúis a bhailíochtú agus a dhearbhú trí úsáid a bhaint as, mar shampla, Billí Fóntais a chuideoidh tréimhsí folúis a dhéanamh amach (e.g. patrúin úsáide nó dícheangal) nó cruthúnais eile den chineál sin a bheadh ar fáil a shásódh an t-údarás áitiúil. Ní mór deimhniú folúis a bheith bailíochtaithe agus dearbhaithe ag an údarás áitiúil sula gceadaítear deontas.

D’fhéadfadh Deontas faoi Scéim Tí Fuinnimh Níos Fearr ón SEAI a bheith ar fáil in éineacht leis an deontas seo. Ní chlúdófar dá réir obair a bheidh clúdaithe ag Scéim Tí Fuinnimh Níos Fearr ón SEAI. Ní mór don údarás áitiúil a dheimhniú dó féin nach bhfuil éileamh déanta faoi aon dheontas eile i leith na hoibre beartaithe.

Beidh cruthúnas ar fholús agus úinéireacht ag teastáil chun tacú leis an íocaíocht deontais. I dtéarmaí úinéireachta, is faoin iarratasóir a bheidh sé úinéireacht a dheimhniú leis an údarás áitiúil.

Féadfaidh údarás áitiúil ceadú i bprionsabal a thabhairt d’iarratas deontais sa chás go bhfuil an t-iarratasóir ábalta fianaise ar idirphlé gníomhach atá ar bun i dtaobh réadmhaoin a cheannach a chur ar fáil i.e. deimhniú comhaontaithe ón ngníomhaireacht eastáit nó ó úinéir na réadmhaoine nuair a chuireann an t-úinéir cruthúnas dá leithéid ar fáil i dtaobh an réadmhaoin a bheith folamh mar a éilítear faoin scéim thar ceann an iarratasóra. Ní dhéanfar ceadú i bprionsabal den chineál sin a dheimhniú ina cheadú iomlán go dtí go mbeidh úinéireacht aistrithe chuig an iarratasóir agus ní bheidh cead aon airgead a tharraingt anuas go dtí go mbeidh an úinéireacht sin deimhnithe go sásúil ag an údarás áitiúil.

Tá tuilleadh eolais ar fáil in achoimre na scéime, foirm iarratais agus na Ceisteanna a Chuirtear go Minic bainteacha. Déan teagmháil leis an Oifigeach do Réadmhaoin Fholamh i d’údarás áitiúil chun tuilleadh eolais a fháil.