'Macra has to compete with Netflix to attract new members'
Macra - a voluntary rural youth organisation that provides a social outlet for members - needs to compete with Netflix in order to reduce rural isolation of young people and recruit new members, president elect Thomas Duffy has said.
Mr Duffy said that in the past, the organisation had to compete with other community groups and clubs.
But now it has to compete with streaming apps like Netflix, which currently has more than 250,000 subscribers in Ireland.
Mr Duffy said that while streaming apps and social media have positive benefits, he believes they are causing people in rural areas to become more disconnected.
"Young people are becoming more detached from communities.
"There's an epidemic of loneliness out there and an increasing number of people becoming isolated from each other and people are looking for entertainment through apps like Netflix. We need to compete with that now if we want to reduce isolation," the dairy farmer said.
"It's not just Netflix, I'm just using that as a point of reference. These apps aren't the cause of loneliness but they are the symptoms."
Mr Duffy added that Macra needs to work harder at engaging new members to come to meetings and events.
"Macra is dedicated to the idea of being positive about the future and being active in life rather than passive.
"Sometimes we get new members and at the first few meetings they don't say a word but in a year or two they are up on stage public speaking or doing other activities," explained Mr Duffy.
"Members recruit other members and empower others to join. You can run the best recruitment advertising campaign in the world but nothing beats a member ringing up someone and asking them to join.
"The worst thing that can happen is that you won't come back."
Mr Duffy, who is an agricultural adviser and dairy farmer near Virginia, Co Cavan, is due to be officially sworn in as Macra president at the organisation's AGM in Athy this weekend.
He will take over from James Healy.