Wednesday 21 February 2018

Two-speed economy: a divided nation revealed

In Dublin's fashionable business districts the bars and restaurants bustle on a Friday night as well-dressed young workers pour out from their hi-tech workstations in search of tapas and craft beers.

It is in stark contrast to the drab main streets of many Irish towns, lined with empty stores, where the much-heralded "recovery" has yet to trickle through.

Welcome to two-speed Ireland.

As property prices surge in fashionable parts of Dublin, Cork and Galway they continue to slide in rural Ireland, blighted by 'ghost' estates and over-supply.

"People in rural Ireland are feeling left behind," says Seamus Boland of Irish Rural Link. "It's not that we don't welcome employment growth, we do, but at the moment it feels so skewed in Dublin's favour."

The flight from the countryside and the desire of bright young graduates in the new online world for the joys of city life has led to a growing divide between urban and rural Ireland. "In the past 30 years I've never seen business as bad . . . in this town there are 6,000 people signing on, that's a quarter of the population, and we've lost so many to emigration" says John Walsh, a shop owner in Tralee.

Tomorrow we bring you a special report on how the so-called recovery remains a dream in much of the country.

Don't miss Divided Nation in Weekend Review.

Irish Independent

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