Social Democrats Cork South-West candidate, Cllr Holly Cairns, says too many communities in Cork are afflicted with rural isolation which can lead to mental health challenges.
Speaking at an organic farm in Skibbereen, Ms Cairns, her party's spokesperson on Agriculture, and Cork South-West General Election candidate, was launching their new strategy to combat such isolation.
Ms Cairns said: “For too long, rural development has been framed as some sort of urban rural divide. However, the quality of life issues that people have in urban areas are no less felt within rural communities.
Costs of childcare, commutes to work, affordable housing, access to good quality healthcare or disability services are core concerns of people all across west Cork.
“The impact of these challenges can be felt differently in rural communities, leading to depopulation, isolation and mental challenges. It’s time to shout stop, to have a government who will have a clear focus on ideas and innovations that are specifically designed to halt the decline in our rural communities,” she added.
She said the Social Democrats are putting forward solutions, which include investment in good quality public services, accessible local transport that links towns and villages, investment that builds new economic and job creation opportunities and regeneration measures for towns.
Ms Cairns said the county needs supports for the agriculture and fisheries sectors — the lifeblood of rural communities.
She said: “Change is coming and we want to bring solutions that don’t involve a cliff-edge with no supports or alternatives in place. These solutions should be fair, not only to our current farmers, but to the next generation of farmers too.
"To achieve this, we need robust and sustainable support from the State. It is not too late to save our rural communities."
In Dublin, the party also launched their 'Greener and Fairer’ climate policy to deal tackle the environmental crisis.