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Regions in Focus 2024: Building capacity to address the challenges of a changing Ireland

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Regions in Focus 2024: Building capacity to address the challenges of a changing Ireland

Over 130 councillors from across the country assembled in Adare in February 2024 at the Association of Irish Regions annual gathering, "Regions in Focus," to discuss and debate sub-national and regional government in Ireland. The event brought together Elected Members from Local Authorities across Ireland, senior public and civil servants from Ireland, Norway and Denmark as well policy analysts, academics and Government Ministers.

Minister Norma Foley TD spoke on the evolving role of regional government in Ireland. Minister of State Jack Chambers TD spoke on the opportunities for further balanced regional development in Ireland, strengthening communities, and delivering key transport infrastructure for economic development. Minister of State Kieran O’Donnell TD attended to launch THRIVE – the Town Centre First Heritage Revival Scheme – an opportunity for local authorities to secure additional funding support for town centre regeneration throughout the regions.

Regions in Focus 2024 focused on the critical junctures in Irish planning and development, such as the new Planning and Development Bill, the review of the National Planning Framework, and the ongoing challenges posed by climate change. Moderated by the journalist, writer, and presenter Olivia O'Leary, the two-day event featured a compelling lineup of international, national, regional, and local speakers.

Keynote speeches and panel debates facilitated a rich exchange of ideas and best practices, with participants highlighting the importance of sustainability, economic resilience, and inclusive growth.

Cllr. Dermot Lacey, Cathaoirleach of the Association of Irish Regions, reflected on the event's success, stating, "The exceptional turnout and dynamic exchanges at this year's event underscore the critical importance of regional development in Ireland's future. Together, we've laid down a robust foundation that will drive our regions forward, highlighting the collective resolve to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead."

“This year's Regions in Focus event has set a new benchmark for collaborative efforts in shaping a sustainable and prosperous future for Ireland's Regions," said David Kelly, Director of the Southern Regional Assembly. 


View pictures from Regions in Focus 2024 HERE (photo credit to Joe Diggins)

Explore presentations delivered and important documents mentioned over the two days by following below links, and view Regions in Focus agenda HERE

Statutory Functions of Regional Assembly- David Kelly, Director, Southern Regional Assembly
Implications of the Draft Planning and Development Bill 2023- Clare Bannon, Acting Director, Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly
Overview of the Irish Regions European Office (IREO) and the Irish Delegation to the Committee of the Regions-Teresa Lennon, Head of IREO
Past, Present and Future of Regions in Denmark-Is there a future?-Roger Buch, Professor in Political Science, Danish School of Media and Journalism
Learning from metropolitan areas across Europe- Peter Austin, Planning Adviser, City of Oslo
Regional Change- Potential and Opportunities- Kevin Lynch-Assistant Director, Southern Regional Assembly
Opportunities for Ireland's Regions- Michael Flood, Policy Analyst, OECD
Achieving Regional Equality-Dr Carla Kayanan, Assistant Lecturer, Maynooth University
Overview of EU Funding Opportunities for the Regions- Brendan Mooney, Northern and Western Regional Assembly
Monitoring of the application of the European Charter of Local Self Government in Ireland
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