'Rural transport is about more than getting the lads home on Saturday night'
Investment in broadband and transport are necessary if rural Ireland is going to catch up with Dublin and properly recover from the economic crash.
A Teagasc and NUI Galway study on the 'Urban-Rural Impact of Economic Recovery' shows that recovery in rural Ireland has been at a much slower pace than Dublin. This is largely linked to the poorer transport and broadband facilities in rural areas.
Louise Lennon of Rural Link warned poor communication facilities are holding it back from reaching its full potential.
"Broadband is hindering the growth of rural areas. We're losing out on jobs that could easily be placed in rural areas because there is no broadband and transport is another thing that is vital to people. It's not just for older people. It's for younger people and for getting them to college.
"Even retraining people who may be looking for off-farm work. If they've no car how are they going to access training centres?" she said.
ICSA's general secretary, Eddie Punch (pictured) added that we need to be "more ambitious" around rural transport and see it as more than a means of transporting "the lads to the pub on a Saturday".
"If we're ambitious we can make rural transport sustainable. It doesn't just have to bring the lads home from the pub on a Saturday night.
"Every day you could go to the rural town or village two or three times a day because the bus is there. Teenage kids could go to their soccer training if there was a rural bus. We're missing that picture now," he said.
He added that some of Ireland's most successful businesses have their origins in rural Ireland and that the Government needs to back rural areas more.
"There's way too much focus on Dublin. Some of the best Irish companies like McHale and Dairymaster have their roots in small farming communities.
"Rural areas have to be supported," he said.
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