'They don't want to know about rural Ireland' - Lady behind the Ploughing hits out at 'D4 politicians'
Rural communities must fight for their rights as politicians "don't want to know" about life outside Dublin 4, the National Ploughing Championships (NPA) chief has said.
Speaking at a conference on 'Rebuilding Rural Ireland - lessons from Sport', Anna May McHugh, urged communities to "stand together" as she fears the disconnect between the Government and the grassroots may never truly mend.
Fellow speakers, including Tipperary's All-Ireland winning senior hurling manager Michael Ryan, Irish rugby legend John Hayes and former Clare hurler and businessman Padraig Giblin, reiterated this view to around 200 attendees at MIC, St Patrick's Campus, Thurles.
"It's up to us to keep rural Ireland alive because the people in Dublin, many of them, don't realise what goes on in rural areas and don't compliment us enough on what we are capable of," said Ms McHugh, from Ballylinan, Co Laois.
"We listen to politicians over and over and all they are doing is arguing with each other. They don't want to know what happens outside Dublin 4, but we must make them realise and appreciate what happens," she said.
Just three months after the launch of the Government's 'Action Plan for Rural Development,' all the panellists voiced disappointment at threats to 200 post offices and cuts to vital bus services.
They are encouraging communities to come together with innovative ideas on how to diversify their unique landscapes into vibrant and profitable projects such as hill walking amenities, adventure centres, drama groups, local festivals and sports clubs.
Ms McHugh, managing director of the NPA since 1973, illustrated this potential through the success of the NPA, which brought 283,000 spectators to Screggan, Co Offaly, last September.