WDC outlines remote working advances to Northern Ireland delegation

8 March 2022 Liam Horan By Liam Horan

The Western Development Commission, which manages the nationwide ConnectedHubs.ie network, last week hosted a delegation from Northern Ireland keen to learn about remote working policy and practice in rural Ireland.

The 17-strong Rural Community Network (RCN) delegation visited hubs within the ConnectedHubs.ie network in Carrick-on-Shannon, Mohill, Boyle, Ballinasloe, and Tullamore. The trip was coordinated by Pauline Leonard, a member of the WDC’s ConnectedHubs.ie team and Nigel McKinney, Project Consultant with the Rural Community Network.

“Remote working, including in rural communities, has been a necessity for many globally, due to the pandemic control regulations. This has highlighted the digital divide between urban and rural areas in respect of connectivity,” said Aidan Campbell, Policy Officer, RCN.

“Policy and practice in Northern Ireland are at an earlier stage compared to the Republic, where the development of policy and practical support arrangements has accompanied the roll-out of improved physical infrastructure and services.

 “The two-day visit allowed us to learn more about the work of the Western Development Commission in supporting rural remote working and the policy environment in which this work is taking place, and to engage with and learn from practitioners in several remote working hubs.

“This will assist us as we begin to consider policy and practice implications for Northern Ireland.”

WDC CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin said the organisation was delighted to build cross-border relationships of this nature. “The reality is that all of us on this island are motivated to capitalise on the opportunity presented by remote working, and we were very happy to share what we have learned to date with our colleagues from Northern Ireland.”

Highlights of the trip included:

  • Visits to The Hive (Carrick-on-Shannon), Mohill Enterprise Centre, The Spool Factory (Boyle), Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre; The Junction (Tullamore);
  • Meetings with local authority Atlantic Economic Corridor Officers, Broadband Officers and Local Enterprise Office executives;
  • Discussions with WDC personnel and representatives of the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD)
  • Introduction to the Reinventing Boyle urban regeneration project.