Monday 16 December 2019

Philip Ryan: City-dwellers look on in envy at Humphreys' plan

'Rural Affairs Minister Heather Humphreys was tasked with drafting an action plan to revive rural Ireland.' Photo: Getty Images
'Rural Affairs Minister Heather Humphreys was tasked with drafting an action plan to revive rural Ireland.' Photo: Getty Images
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

People living in small towns and villages dotted across rural Ireland were among the worst affected by the collapse of the country's economy.

Those who didn't flee for Australia or Canada watched as their local post office, Garda station and pub closed.

They watched neighbours pack their belongings after banks repossessed their homes. The shops fronts of businesses they regularly visited were boarded up and left to decay. Once-thriving main streets now resemble the Mary Celeste.

Fine Gael, to some extent, forgot about these communities during its first five years in office and paid the price at the polls. One of Enda Kenny's main commitments on returning to power was to breathe life back into rural Ireland.

Initiatives have been announced and funding promised under the overarching pledge to bring jobs back to communities that said goodbye to so many young workers over the last eight years.

Rural Affairs Minister Heather Humphreys was tasked with drafting an action plan to revive rural Ireland.

Central to her new plan is a cash grant for house buyers who want to renovate buildings in rural communities.

The renovation grant is to be welcomed and hopefully it will lure young people back into our forgotten towns and villages.

Incentivising older people to sell up their homes in isolated areas and move to town centres would also lead to better social cohesion.

However, the scheme is likely to divide opinion and city-dwellers will look on in envy from their overpriced homes in the suburbs.

Moving to a once-idyllic town in rural Ireland to spend your time redecorating an old terrace house is not an option for a lot of people. Work and family life, especially if both are based in cities or suburbs, would not allow the majority of people to up sticks and move west.

The majority of jobs are in Dublin, Cork and Limerick and most people want to live in or near these areas. These cities are also peppered with derelict buildings which could be renovated with the help of a State grant.

The renovation scheme is to be applauded, but if it could be of benefit to urban areas too, why not make it nationwide?

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss