Rural action plan must be followed through
Published 28/01/2017 | 00:00
The newly launched action plan on rural development is not before time.
For years we have been crying out for some attention and investment in rural areas all over the country yet it has fallen on deaf ears.
If fully implemented, this plan appears to be quite positive but actually getting it over the line is the real challenge.
These sorts of 'action plans' are always packed full of promises that people desperately want to see fulfilled, yet it is rare that they all fully come to fruition.
If there was an election in the morning, this plan would be out the window and the promises to rural Ireland along with it.
It aims to entice people back into small towns and villages with the promise of more jobs, greater investment, better transport links and further support for industries such as fishing and farming.
This is no eureka moment - simply what has been needed since before the recession.
How could any Government expect people to be passionate about living in a community without jobs and that can barely be accessed without a car?
Throughout the recession numerous entrepreneurs took the plunge and started small businesses in many of these towns only to go belly up within a year or two - and where was the support for them then? They couldn't even claim the dole afterwards.
Decentralisation previously claimed that jobs would be created in counties outside Dublin so that many of those living in Dublin purely for employment reasons, would be afforded the opportunity to move back to their roots if they so wished. This wasn't fully rolled out either, despite all the promises.
It is true that we are living within a two-tier economy and while this action plan promises a lot, I don't think a three-year time frame is long enough.
These rural areas, which the plan focuses on have been depleted of jobs, population and investment over many years, which cannot be reversed quickly.
This plan must be followed through and forgotten areas can't be given false hope. They are already wondering where this so-called 'recovery' is because outside Dublin, many people simply are not feeling it yet.
Those towns which have more vacant retail and industrial units than ever before will take a lot of convincing, that the tide is turning.