The vast majority of rural dwellers believe that the Government is too Dublin-focused, while more than 80% of farmers and farm families feel no political parties represent rural Ireland.
The latest Irish Examiner ICMSA opinion poll found 86% of respondents believe Leo Varadkar’s administration is too focused on the capital, including 93% of those aged 55 to 64.
Irish Rural Link said it welcomed the establishment of the Department of Rural and Community Development and the grants funding that came with it, but added:
“There is still often the sense that the majority of growth in the economy is happening in the Dublin area.
“Many rural areas, especially disadvantaged communities and marginalised groups of people are still feeling the impact of the recession, with the same level of growth happening in Dublin and other cities not being felt in rural areas.
Irish Rural Link also said the majority of jobs are created in the capital, especially from multinational companies, which are generally better-paid jobs.
“Many families in rural areas see their sons and daughters migrate to the capital to take up jobs with such companies or families with small children having to commute long distances to access work,” said Irish Rural Link, calling for a “more balanced spread of multinational companies across the country”.
It also said more supports were needed for SMEs and a change to the “ongoing narrative” of closures such as post offices, garda stations, and pubs which “gives the impression that rural areas are dying”.Irish Rural Link
It called on the Government to establish regional employment task forces to include local authorities, government employment agencies, and others.
Earlier this month, the Department of Rural and Community Development announced details of a public consultation survey as part of a broader consultation process to inform the development of a new, whole-of-Government policy for rural Ireland for the period 2020-2025.
The new rural policy being developed is to take account of demographic trends within rural communities, the increased focus on climate change, the changing nature of jobs, and Brexit.
It will focus on strengthening rural communities and rural economies and will identify policy measures which need to be put in place in order to achieve these objectives.