The battle is on to save South Kerry
Údarás-led taskforce hopes to lead rural regeneration
A passionate Pat Spillane said he is hopeful that a new inter-agency task-force in the Iveragh peninsula will help challenge the narrative that rural Ireland is in decline and serve as a model for similar areas around the country.
The eight-time All-Ireland winner, the Ambassador for the national Action Plan for Rural Development, was one of a number of speakers at this week's launch of the Inter-agency Taskforce for the Uíbh Ráthach Gaeltacht area, which aims to revitalise the south Kerry peninsula.
Recent research by Dr Breandán O'Keefe of Mary Immaculate College Limerick and Shane O' Sullivan of Limerick IT showed that the population of the Uíbh Ráthach Gaeltacht has plummeted by over 40 per cent since the establishment of Gaeltacht areas in 1956, in stark contrast to a near-20 per cent increase in population experienced across all Gaeltachtaí in that time.
The taskforce will be led by regional development agency Údarás na Gaeltachta, who will collaborate national and local agencies and the local community.
It is envisaged that a cross-sectoral action plan for the Uíbh Ráthach Gaeltacht area will be finalised within a four to six month period, and will be based on supporting sustainable communities; enterprise and employment; rural tourism and recreation; culture and creativity; and rural infrastructure and connectivity.
"It is vital for the Uíbh Ráthach peninsula that a viable realistic and achievable action plan is put together over the next few months and more importantly thereafter that the resources to implement the actions are provided," Mr Spillane said at this week's launch.
There are significant opportunities in rural areas if the proper focus is giving to the issues. The appropriate infrastructure and resources need to be provided for Rural Ireland and I hope this model in South Kerry can be used nationwide in the future."
Minister of State Griffin added that the taskforce "has a very important job to do in helping to revitalise the Uíbh Ráthach Gaeltacht and peninsula.
"It is significant that this community has chosen not to be silent and have chosen to fight back and do all in their power to reverse the population decline in their area. The success of this taskforce is vital for the Uíbh Ráthach peninsula."
Údarás na Gaeltachta's newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Mícheál Ó hEanaigh said he was delighted to be at the head of coordinating the taskforce, and pointed towards the region's tourism potential as one of the Uíbh Ráthach area's strongest advantages.