Minister for Rural and Community Development,Mr Michael Ring TD, today presented a new mandate for Comhairle na Tuaithe (the Countryside Council) which will reinforce and strengthen the advisory role of Comhairle in relation to the sustainable development of the outdoor recreation sector in Ireland.
At a meeting of Comhairle na Tuaithe in Athlone, Minister Ring also announced the appointment of Dr. Liam Twomey as the new Chair of Comhairle na Tuaithe.
Speaking after the meeting, Minister Ring said:
“As a group which is representative of all of the key stakeholders in the increasingly popular outdoor recreation sector, Comhairle na Tuaithe has done much to support the sustainable development of the sector since 2004.
“Given the continuing expansion of, and interest in, outdoor recreation in Ireland, it is now timely to refresh the mandate of Comhairle na Tuaithe so that it can continue to play an increasingly important role in advising on the further development of outdoor recreation in a sustainable way as the sector grows and evolves.
“The continued growth of the sector must be balanced with the sustainable use of our natural resources, the protection of our environment, and respect for landowners who permit their lands to be used for recreational purposes.
“That is why today, I have presented a new mandate for Comhairle to deliver. The new mandate strengthens the role of Comhairle in advising me, as Minister with responsibility for Rural and Community Development, on the sustainable development of outdoor recreation, particularly in the open countryside.
“I have also asked Comhairle to identify opportunities to develop rural enterprises based on outdoor recreation activity, and to consider the scope for the development of a new National Strategy for Outdoor Recreation, taking account of recent developments and investments across the sector.
“The new mandate provides Comhairle with the opportunity to contribute to the development of outdoor recreation in a way which benefits rural communities, respects the rights of landowners and allows more people to experience the benefits of our natural capital.”
The Minister added:
“I have also appointed Dr. Liam Twomey as the new Chair of Comhairle na Tuaithe. I am delighted that Liam has agreed to take on the role as Chair of Comhairle. His wide range of experience and insight will help Comhairle to deliver on its new mandate”.
The Minister concluded:
“The continued growth and potential of the sector is reflected in the level of investment in outdoor recreation infrastructure by Government Departments, State Agencies and Local Authorities in recent years.”
“Outdoor recreation has become increasingly popular for many people as a means of social engagement and of enhancing their physical and mental well-being. Outdoor recreational activity also supports local tourism and rural economic development. In 2014, the Adventure Activity tourism sector was valued at €852 million by Fáilte Ireland; it contributed to the direct and indirect employment of 2,125 people.”
Notes to Editors:
Comhairle na Tuaithe (the Countryside Council) was established as a non-statutory group in February 2004 to address the following priority issues:
- access to the countryside
- developing a countryside code, and
- developing a countryside recreation strategy
At present, Comhairle is comprised of representatives of farming organisations, recreational users of the countryside and State bodies with a responsibility for, or interest in, the countryside. In 2006, Comhairle developed and published the National Countryside Recreation Strategy which sought to address relevant countryside access and development issues.
An independent review of Comhairle was carried out in 2016 which made a number of recommendations to improve the structures and operations of Comhairle to achieve a more integrated and shared vision around countryside access and usage. This new mandate builds on this review.