Muintir na Tíre, the National Association for Community Development, has asked all new TDs to ensure the issues facing rural Ireland are given prominence in the negotiations for a new Government. They have requested that specific measures are included in any programme for Government and that these include the appointment of a senior Minister.
Muintir na Tíre CEO, Niall Garvey, said “There is no Government policy for Rural Ireland, and has not been for several Governments. Rural Ireland has been savaged by cuts over the last 8 years and yet communities remain resilient and want to improve life in their areas. These communities provide many services on a voluntary basis. These include community childcare, local transport, community shops, community centres and other vital services, filling gaps where existing services have been withdrawn.”
He continued “It is only fair to these communities that they are supported, and know where this is all going to end. For this, they need to know there is an overall plan and vision. What will Rural Ireland look like in 10 or 20 years’ time and what essential supports are required to ensure this comes about?”
“The outgoing Government launched a Charter for Rural Ireland in its last week in office. This set out a number of positive steps towards developing a policy framework, and committed to assessing the impact of all Government policy, new and existing, on Rural Ireland. This aspiration must be made a reality, and quickly.”
National President of Muintir na Tíre, Paddy Byrne, commented that “Muintir na Tíre, in association with several other national bodies, launched the Save Rural Ireland campaign a year ago. This set out a number of key issues and suggested practical solutions. The issues included broadband, crime prevention, the Post Office network, flood prevention and insurance, and GP cover.”
He added “some progress has been made but these issues remain relevant and urgent. We feel they can only be addressed adequately with the appointment of a senior Minister responsible. As a priority that Minister must fully implement the recommendations of the CEDRA report. However that report only address economic issues and important social issues must also be dealt with.”
We look forward to working constructively with the incoming Government. There are of course issues facing urban communities also and many of these are similar. However the recent election campaign highlighted the feeling, and reality, that the seeds of recovery have yet to be felt in Rural Ireland. Tourism and agriculture, both predominantly rural activities, sustained this country through the tough times and this must be acknowledged in sharing the benefits of recovery fairly.”