Two-speed economy is a cause for concern
Published 24/04/2015 | 02:30
It has been apparent for some time that a chasm is opening up between Dublin, in particular, and other parts of Ireland.
The so-called 'two-speed economy' means that while the capital has largely recovered from the ravages of the recession, many towns and villages are struggling for their very existence.
Of course, this is not universal, but certainly too many are desolate, suffering from the twin ailments of unemployment and emigration.
There is no easy solution to this problem, which has been a feature of the country for many years, but it has certainly become more pronounced since the banking and financial collapse. The so-called knowledge economy was supposed to lead to a greater spread of people, allowing those who wanted to benefit from a rural life to live and work outside cities. The opposite has now happened.
Ireland has become seriously unbalanced, with a large concentration of people and business in Dublin and along the eastern seaboard. Other cities such as Cork, Limerick and Galway also appear to be thriving.
But large tracts of rural Ireland appear deserted by people and business alike.
Over the years attempts have been made to encourage a more even spread of accommodation and employment, but the fact remains that success breeds success. Various studies have shown that there is a flight from the land and the advent of television and the internet has increased this trend, rather than lessening it.
There are no lack of plans and blueprints for the revival of rural Ireland, drawn up by professional planners and concerned groups. Maybe it is now time for these communities to wake up to their own power, both political and commercial, to find a solution to this problem. You cannot make people live in places they don't want to live, but you can make a start by making it more attractive for people to return to the depopulated towns of rural Ireland. Such initiatives are needed now before it is too late.
While it is welcome that Dublin is thriving again - and that undoubtedly helps the rest of the country - there is a clear need to rebalance the our economy or we could end up living with a rural wasteland.