One Govt. Minister launches town renewal scheme while another does nothing and allows Thurles town centre to die

Noel Dundon


Noel Dundon


Michael Ring

Minister Michael Ring launched new scheme for town reneral

One hand in government doesn't know what the other hand is doing it seems 

Welcome to modern day Ireland , where one government Minister is launching schemes to rejuvenate dying town centres, while another sits on his hands and allows the Post Office in Thurles  to leave Liberty Square, thereby signing its death warrant.

Mr Michael Ring TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development announced the launch of the 2019 Town and Village Renewal Scheme which supports the rejuvenation of rural towns and villages with populations of less than 10,000 people through projects that will have a viable, long-term benefit.

For 2019, the Town and Village Renewal Scheme will support projects which enhance the town or village centre environment. Building on the pilot scheme launched by Minister Ring in October 2018, it will also place a focus on initiatives which encourage increased residential occupancy in town centres.

The Town and Village Renewal Scheme is a key initiative under the Action Plan for Rural Development and is part of a range of measures to support the revitalisation of rural Ireland under the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 Rural Regeneration Programme.

Launching the 2019 scheme, Minister Ring said: “The Town and Village Renewal Scheme has become an integral part of the Government’s drive to support rural Ireland. It provides funding of up to €200,000 for projects that make our towns more attractive places in which to live and work. Proposals seeking to develop initiatives to encourage town centre living will be particularly welcome, as will projects which stimulate economic activity between a town/village and its neighbouring townlands. I also encourage proposals which have clear positive impacts on a town or village in terms of place-making and town centre regeneration.

But hang on a minute, Minister Rings cabinet colleague, Minister Richard Bruton has the chance to save Thurles town centre by intervening in the row over the relocation of the Post Office to Thurles Shopping Centre. Unfortunately, contrary to Minister Rings policy of trying to do something about the town centres, Minister Brutons policy is to do nothing about the semi-State company he controls.

“The Town and Village Renewal Scheme supports my Department’s mission to promote rural and community development and to support vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities throughout Ireland. It will help build the resilience of rural communities in the face of Brexit and can also contribute to the transition to a low-carbon economy through measures based in town centres. I would particularly welcome applications this year from towns and villages that are most in need of support, and towns that did not apply or were unsuccessful in the past," Minister Ring said.

But, in relation to Thurles Post Office, Minister Bruton had this to say: " An Post has indicated that any plan to revamp the current Liberty Square premises would be hampered by the condition of the three storey listed property, the lack of available development space, and the prohibitive cost of overcoming any of these obstacles. Furthermore, that the building had also been the subject of repeated complaints around accessibility and excessive queuing caused by the lack of space in the office. Given the challenges it is facing, the company needs to pursue an ambitious agenda across its various business areas and there is likely to be significant change and new business models implemented in the coming years.

"Key to the survival of the network is the willingness of the public to use the service the post office provides.Investment of €50 million in the network by An Post is based on getting communities to use the enhanced services that their local post office will provide through a modernised network. The company is continuing to make good progress in implementing its strategic plan which will see a range of developments across the mails and retail businesses. A refreshed and modernised An Post brand has been launched in recent weeks, alongside a new financial services proposition, An Post Money, and a new business-to-business brand, An Post Commerce.

 "It is Government policy that An Post remains a strong, viable company in a position to provide a high quality, nationwide postal service and that it maintains a nationwide customer focused network of post office in the community. Government remains fully committed to a sustainable post office network which is a key piece of economic and social infrastructure for both rural and urban areas."

Conflicting messages from the same Cabinet.