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'Rural Ireland seems to be getting stripped of services - people are very unhappy'

A NEW group will be launched later this month to protect the interests of rural Ireland.

Muintir na Tíre has met with a number of other rural organisations who now plan to group together to highlight their concerns.

The new working group, which is currently using the title Save Rural Ireland, will launch an official platform within weeks.

Paddy Byrne, President of Muintir na Tíre, said the new group would focus on five areas of concern for rural communities: post office closures; broadband issues; cash for scrap and cash for gold; flood risks and flood insurance; and GP cover.

The grouping has already met with some MEPs and will now target all TDs in an effort to push rural problems into the spotlight, in the lead-up to the next general election.

Muintir na Tíre has been in existence for 76 years, but Mr Byrne warned the ongoing threats to rural communities were among the worst they had encountered.

The group is linked to 1,450 groups nationally, including 190 community councils.

"Rural Ireland over the last number of years seems to be continuously stripped of services. We're getting a huge volume of calls from right around the country where people are very unhappy about this," he said.

The new group wants five main issues affecting rural Ireland addressed.

This includes a review of post office closures.

"When there is a post office there is often a shop along with it. If the post office goes then the general rule is the shop goes too."

The organisation also wants broadband concerns addressed.

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It wants to set up broadband co-ops within the 190 community councils it has all around the country.

Mr Byrne said another major concern for many areas was the cash for scrap and cash for gold businesses.

"It's encouraging tourist crime, where gangs are travelling around the country, robbing people and heading back to cities," he said.

The final issue of concern is the growing problem of rural areas losing GPs.

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