Dáil Éireann - Volume 651 - 03 April, 2008
Written Answers. - Programme for Government.
Deputy Mary Upton Deputy Mary Upton
Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made with regard to the commitment contained in the Programme for Government to implement a major programme to promote rural countryside recreation to be implemented by a dedicated unit or division of staff in consultation with stakeholders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12485/08]
Deputy Joan Burton Deputy Joan Burton
Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made with regard to the commitment contained in the Programme for Government to set up an all-Ireland walkways development plan, mapping out infrastructure needs and routes and maximising their routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12484/08]
Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív
Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 34 together.
Progress in this area includes:
identification and review of a set of access parameters in the country side and agreement on the key features necessary for countryside code development by Comhairle na Tuaithe, which I established in 2004 and is supported by my Department,
publication of a National Countryside Recreation Strategy in September 2006 by Comhairle na Tuaithe,
development and launch of the Walks Scheme by my Department, which is currently being piloted on four routes and it is anticipated that when the Scheme is bedded down it will be rolled out to a further eight routes this year, with others coming on stream in 2009,
 agreement with Fáilte Ireland regarding the employment of 11 Rural Recreation Officers (RRO). Their role will be to promote walking tourism in areas where there are clusters of suitable, accessible walks. The RRO will act as a contact person for walking tourists and will provide a wide range of support and advice. I understand that recruitment of these Rural Recreation Officers is now well underway,
have made over €1.3million in capital funding available to Fáilte Ireland to assist in the development of the national network of looped walks to a total of 50 trailheads and 75 Loops,
I have allocated €90,000 (€30,000 per annum from 2006-2008) to Wicklow Uplands Council and Wicklow Rural Partnership to provide a network of access routes over private lands in areas of high scenic and amenity value in County Wicklow,
In addition, my Department is actively pursuing the possibility of using former railway infrastructure as recreational trails — for activities such as walking and cycling — with the Department of Transport and Iarnród Éireann. I have provided funding to Great Southern Trail to upgrade to cycling standard a section of the existing walking trail on the abandoned Limerick to Tralee railway line.
Separately, discussions are continuing with Coillte and Bord na Móna to discuss the possibility of expanding the use of their lands for recreational purposes and I will continue to progress this matter as I believe that there is considerable potential here to make significant contributions to rural recreation.
Dáil Éireann 651 Written Answers. Programme for Government.