Pubs in Cork county may become hubs for remote working under the new rural plan.

Down the local hub

Pubs may soon be swapping pints for printers as a new Government plan aims to turn public houses into remote working hubs.

The plan Our Rural Future outlines a pilot scheme to repurpose rural public houses as community spaces and hubs for local services and remote working.

The scheme is part of an overall plan designed to provide a framework for the development of rural Ireland over the next five years.

An integral part of the plan is to promote remote working throughout rural Ireland in an effort to revitalise towns and villages that have struggled in recent times to retain a residential workforce.

According to a recent survey carried out by the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) and the Western Development Commission (WDC), from over 5,600 respondents, 94 per cent expressed an interest in working remotely on an on-going basis following the Covid-19 crisis.

Welcoming the new plan was Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West, Michael Moynihan who said it is his ambition that the Government have more people working in all parts of Ireland, with access to quality employment and good career opportunities.

The plan has pledged €2.7 billion to the delivery and acceleration of the National Broadband Plan as well as €1 billion under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund to support projects to regenerate towns and settlements of less than 10,000 people. A further €100 million will go towards the Town and Village Renewal Scheme which addresses vacant properties and encourages more people to live in town centres.

Fine Gael Cllr for Kanturk and Mallow John Paul O’Shea said it will support the recovery of Cork’s tourism and hospitality sectors as well as creating new jobs.

He said the plan reflects changes in living and working patterns during Covid-19 and will maximise the recovery for all parts of the country.

“For decades, we have seen global trends where young people leave their local communities in Cork county to live and work in larger cities. As we emerge from Covid-19 we will never have a better opportunity to reverse that long-standing trend,” said Cllr O’Shea.

Meanwhile, Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin and Fáilte Ireland have announced details of a new €17m scheme for developing outdoor dining capacity nationwide.

The Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme comprises of two parts and will be delivered in partnership between Fáilte Ireland and local authorities across the country.

Part one of the scheme will provide funding for individual tourism and hospitality businesses to develop and increase their own outdoor seating capacity. Funding allocated under part two will enable local authorities to develop permanent outdoor public dining spaces in towns and urban centres, like those that exist in various European cities.

Welcoming the scheme was Fine Gael TD for Cork North Central Colm Burke who said developing outdoor dining will improve the vibrancy of towns across Cork and bring them in line with the European model.

“This will support jobs and businesses and transform appropriate outdoor spaces Cork as welcoming, vibrant places that will help support economic recovery,” said Deputy Burke.