Thursday 29 September 2016

Develop larger provincial towns to save rural Ireland

Published 23/09/2016 | 02:30

‘Rural Ireland should not be left to plough a lone furrow’
‘Rural Ireland should not be left to plough a lone furrow’

Richard Curran, in writing about a new development plan for rural Ireland [Farming Independent], states that regeneration of the major regional towns holds the key to any future success.

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Developing farming alone will not be nearly enough, as farmers' numbers continue to decline year on year, as incomes and profit margins become a real challenge for the industry. Rural economies are becoming more and more dependent on vibrant cities and towns in the provinces, as people commute to work in ever increasing numbers.

The development of the larger towns, such as Tralee, Ennis, Tuam, Longford, Athlone, Roscommon, Castlebar, Ballina, Sligo, Carrick-on-Shannon, Donegal and Monaghan, must be prioritised.

This must involve the introduction of broadband, decent schools, the establishment of more and more foreign multinationals, the expansion of health services, reopening of the government department offices closed in recent years, the maintaining of library services in every county where they are currently under threat, and establishing once more bank branches and garda stations in rural Ireland.

This would be an enormous help in providing much-needed jobs, and a huge boost to the national economy. By the year 2030, it is estimated that approximately 60pc of the population will reside within 25 miles of the east coast.

That concentration of people will bring economic prosperity to the entire eastern region, as bigger populations get a greater share of the national cake. It can also cause many social problems, such as a lack of adequate health and housing services, etc, in the years ahead.

The social argument should not be about rural or urban bashing, but rather the creation of progressive policies that would facilitate the bringing of job opportunities and prosperity to our cities, towns and villages in a nationwide, balanced recovery.

One would hope that rural Ireland would be supported and begin to recover in the coming years, and not be left out on a limb, to plough a lone furrow.

Tom Towey

Cloonacool, Co Sligo

Scholarship vs rankings

Regarding Liam Collins's article which referenced the latest Times Higher Education rankings, from which TCD was excluded, (Irish Independent, September 22), I have no problem with university rankings. We all have to make account of ourselves and we all have to deliver.

And we have to face the Harvards, Stanfords and Princetons of this world in open competition. But in universities, only great scholars, not managers and administrators, can deliver.

And we still have great scholars in TCD (as in UCD). But we cannot go on blaming funding for our failure. TCD, in particular, has not been adequately funded since 1921.

Perhaps we ought to give bonus points for universities that have fought in the centre of a revolution, as did TCD under Captain Ernest Alton, DU OTC, Professor of Latin (Provost, 1942-1952) on April 24 and 25, 1916 until the cavalry arrived from Nottingham and Derby via Liverpool and Kingstown/Dún Laoghaire.

Trinity was founded by an English Queen in 1592 and by tradition is the equal of Oxford and Cambridge. Perhaps we have not been sufficiently appreciated in Ireland over the years, for Trinity has always been an Irish university, not a British university, except in a narrow political sense from 1800-1921.

I am glad to see my old university, Oxford, as the World's No 1 in the centenary of 1916. But I have been in Trinity long enough (since 1968) to be proud of our own academic achievements since 1916. Our heads are unbowed. We shall soon be back where we belong, with the wholehearted support of the Irish people in the land of saints and scholars.

Gerald Morgan

The Chaucer Hub

Trinity College Dublin

Escaping the EU yoke

Was it around 1875, or 1912,or even 1967 when home rule was deemed Rome Rule?

It's no longer a point of contention, thankfully, but where next? For me, the question is how can we get out from under the yoke of Europe? Do we really need a revolution as happened in 1916? I hope not.

Germany, France, Italy and others view Ireland as financial fodder. They have no interest in the country's welfare. We must stand on our own feet again and make our political representatives responsible and accountable for their actions.

Dancing barefoot at the crossroads was a vision of Eamon de Valera - keeping the peasants ignorant, and therefore the source of a cheap labour force, was all part of the plan then.

But we don't live in isolation. We know what's going on. We can see the deception of the parish pump promises.

Maybe, just maybe, if the Irish people were asked today should we leave the EU, like Britain has had the courage to do, our EU masters might get a big surprise. But, as with the Lisbon treaty referendum, we might be ordered to think again.

What weaklings we have become.

Daniel McColgan

Gorey, Co Wexford

Make building homes profitable

A crazy idea has been floated by a former lord mayor suggesting housing people on boats (Irish Independent, September 22).

The only problem with housing is the cost of building - the Government tax take means no builder can make a profit.

Just reduce the levies and VAT (hotels, from five star right down to one star, got a VAT reduction) and give some profit to the house builder and, like any business, the construction industry will take off.

Five percent of all sites becomes social and affordable housing. In south Dublin, there are thousands of acres of land with planning permission for thousands of houses, but no building

No one, from Luas workers to the highest-paid Google director, will work if they don't stand to make a profit.

Fast, temporary builds do not work; instead, the State should get on with allowing builders to do their job for a profit. The Exchequer's coffers will be swelled, the builders will be employed, and last, and by no means least, houses will get built.

Mary Berry

Carrickmines, Dublin

Existence of God

Philip O'Neill (Irish Independent, Letters, September 21) notes that when Blaise Pascal, the brilliant French physicist and writer, doubted his beliefs and prayed for the simple faith of the Breton fisherwoman, he was not praying for ignorance but enlightenment.

When Pascal, the pioneer mathematician of probability theory, was asked by one of his students about the probability of the existence of God, he replied, "If you decide to lead your life on the probability that God does not exist, you do yourself a great disservice."

Kevin Heneghan

St Helens, Merseyside, UK

Irish Independent

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