Sunday 22 October 2017

We want to believe in this big €60m rural plan - but we heard it before

Minister Heather Humphreys, who insisted that rural Ireland did not need to be saved or rescued – it requires empowerment to meet the challenges it faces. Photo: Tom Burke
Minister Heather Humphreys, who insisted that rural Ireland did not need to be saved or rescued – it requires empowerment to meet the challenges it faces. Photo: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

With the crowds of be-suited dignitaries, it was easy to miss Éamonn O'Doherty's beautiful statue of Oliver Goldsmith outside the splendidly refurbished Ballymahon library and community building. But when we saw this crafted celebration of Longford's best-loved literary son, the irony became apparent.

Goldsmith published the 'Deserted Village', a social commentary on rural depopulation and corporate greed, in 1770. Near enough 250 years later, the Taoiseach, two senior cabinet ministers and three junior ministers, had come to the heart of Ireland's Midlands to tell us all how rural Ireland can be reinvigorated, with real results as soon as 2020.

The minister tasked with leading all of this, Rural Affairs Minister Heather Humphreys, is someone who spent her entire life in rural Ireland, close to the Border and working with the credit union which is one of the best community organisations.

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