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*Flan Garvey, Chairperson, Michael Cusack Centre Ltd (front centre), cuts the ribbon at the official opening of the new DigiClare.ie Cusack Hub. Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council (front left), and Mayor of Clare, Cllr Mary Howard (front right), were among the speakers, with guests and representatives joining virtually. Photograph: Eamon Ward

A sixth digital hub owned by Clare County Council was officially opened on Wednesday.

Carron is now home to a digital hub facility following the opening of the Cusack Hub and Broadband Connection Point at the Michael Cusack Centre. It is a partnership between the local authority, the Michael Cusack Visitor Centre and the Government of Ireland and has been delivered through the Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) initiative.

Part of the Council’s DigiClare.ie initiative, the digital hub facility is set to support rural social enterprises and the wider community through the provision of hot desks, video conferencing and printing facilities, all supported by high-speed broadband. Remote workers and students are the targeted users of the hub along with groups and organisations requiring use for community purposes such as meetings and presentations.

Congratulations for the efforts of the Council were voiced by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys (FG). “Remote working, or connected working, as I like to call it, is now a reality, particularly in light of Covid-19. Connected working will reduce commute times, provide increased custom for local businesses in rural towns, and will even attract people to move back to areas they grew up in. It has the potential to transform rural Ireland and to enable people to pursue good careers while continuing to live in rural areas. I believe Ireland can be a world leader in remote/connected working, and the development of hubs such as this one is a crucial part in achieving that goal”.

Progress in delivering “high-speed connectivity” in the county was welcomed by Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan (GP).

In line with Covid-19 restrictions, the official launch of the Cusack Hub took place virtually on Wednesday, 9th December, and was addressed by the Mayor of Clare, Cllr Mary Howard (FG), Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council; Flan Garvey, Chairperson, Michael Cusack Centre Ltd; Dr Stjohn O’Connor, Principal Officer, Department of Rural and Community Development; and Urban McMahon, Head of IS – Digital Transformation and Broadband, Clare County Council.

“It is striking today that we are talking about broadband and digital in the heart of the Burren at the homestead of Michael Cusack, GAA founder. The opening of the Cusack Hub brings a welcome new resource to the local community and will support rural social enterprises in the area. The addition of another facility to the network of digital hubs in County Clare underscores our commitment to supporting rural, community and economic development,” Pat Dowling outlined.

Flan Garvey described the occasion as “a very proud day for the Centre”. The Inagh man added, “The Cusack Hub is an excellent example of a local tourism community group working in partnership with Clare County Council to help people during these challenging times to access state-of-the-art digital facilities and to help students with their studies and enable people to consider working remotely, or to start or grow their business from the hub”.

Opportunities from broadband connectivity “will benefit residents and add to the attractiveness of rural Clare for those who wish to work or re-settle here,” Urban McMahon maintained.

The new Cusack Hub is one of six digital hubs that are being provided under Clare County Council’s DigiClare.ie initiative, with the others located in Ennistymon, Kilrush, Kilkee, Miltown Malbay and Feakle.

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