The Kerryman said the common city attitude that rural areas are dying or dead must be smashed and further noted that, sadly, many good news stories and positive initiatives happening country in areas were not highlighted.
“There is a perception out there among city dwellers that rural Ireland is dead, that it is dying, that it is a drain on the economy and that it’s all about welfare and grants and schemes — it’s not. Rural Ireland is vibrant, it is alive and well.”
At a rural forum in Westport, yesterday, the retired football legend said communities need to work together from the bottom up to preserve rural Ireland.
“Yes there are parts of rural Ireland where the boom time hasn’t reached yet,” he asserted.
Mr Spillane said rural Ireland needs jobs, and facilities to look after the elderly and supports for those with young families to stay in their communities.
Speaking at the same event, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said having municipal architects in every large town, like in Clonakilty, would make rural towns better places to live in.
“One size doesn’t fit all but good examples should be followed, both Clonakilty and Westport are good examples to follow,” Mr Varadkar said.
Responding to Westport municipal town architect Simon Wall, who suggested that all towns employ their own architect, Mr Varadkar said: “I think you may be on to something. What’s really important is the public realm,” the Taoiseach said.
“Even in Dublin, you go to somewhere like Malahide and Lucan and you walk down the main street and it has a village feel to it, it attracts people to want to live there and businesses and so on.”
“Whereas the town that I am from, Blanchardstown, the main street is very higgledy-piggledy. Architects and people who have that expertise could really help to make a difference.”
Yesterday’s Project Ireland 2040 event, attended by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring, focused on balancing regional growth and investment in rural regeneration.
A key commitment of Project Ireland 2040 is the provision of a new €1bn over the period 2019-2027 through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund which will provide investment to support rural renewal for suitable projects in towns and villages with a population of less than 10,000, and outlying areas.