A €10m town and village renewal scheme has been launched with the funds being made available to local authorities this year to support the regeneration of rural towns and villages across Ireland.

A particular focus will be placed on supporting smaller towns, with populations of less than 5,000, and a smaller number of projects can be supported in each county for towns with a population of up to 10,000.

The scheme is part of the Government's plans for regional and rural development and was launched by Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Heather Humphreys.

Minister Humphreys rejected criticism of the new scheme saying it was never claimed a €10m investment in 200 locations would be "the silver bullet" to solve all the problems of rural Ireland.

However, she said, the money could go to projects such as parking and recreational facilities and will be followed by an action plan the Government is preparing for rural regeneration.

Independent Roscommon Galway East TD Michael Fitzmaurice said the €380,000 per county will mean a maximum of eight projects will receive funding of less than €50,000 each, which will not achieve anything significant.

He described it as a drop in the ocean and window dressing so that the Government can say it is doing something to revive rural Ireland.

Local authorities in each county will administer the grant aid project announced today.

Towns and villages with a population of less than 5,000 people are eligible and half the money is expected to go to villages with a population of less than 1,000 people.

Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said the investment will be a positive step to revitalise rural Ireland.

Independent TD for Roscommon-South Leitrim Michael Fitzmaurice has said he is not that impressed with the scheme and that "the devil is always in the detail."

Mr Fitzmaurice said that while €10m appears to be a lot of money, when it is divided between all the counties in Ireland it will work out that around eight towns in each county will receive around €40,000.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, he said that a far more significant investment than €10m would be needed in order to regenerate rural Ireland.

"It's ticking a box, basically saying, that look it, we have done this trying to get the rural regeneration off.

"To be quite frank about it you would want 20-times that if you were to make an effort in regenerating parts of rural Ireland."

Mr Fitzmaurice said that while any money is good it will make little or no difference to towns and it would be better to bring in initiatives to encourage people to improve their buildings and towns, or offer better rates to businesses.

This, he said, would start the revolution of regenerating rural towns.