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Government wants to close down rural Ireland

Sincere thanks to the Irish Examiner on the piece on the serious decline of rural Ireland as illustrated in the article on the parish of Tournafulla.

The situation in Tournafulla is replicated throughout rural Ireland as a result of decades of neglect by various governments. Rural Ireland would have long ago disappeared under an ocean of coniferous trees only for the intervention of the European Union 20 years ago in the form of the LEADER programmes.

This European programme for the first time gave rural communities the opportunity to develop their own areas and do things for themselves. They availed of this opportunity and in doing so saved much of rural Ireland from fatal decline.

Against this background, it illustrates the mentality of this government when, firstly, they removed the meaningful input of communities in running the LEADER programme and handed it over to local authorities, against the wishes of the European Union. Secondly, they cut the LEADER budget by almost 50%; thirdly they failed to take up another European programme “Community Led Local Development” (CLLD) which would have given local action groups access to funding from social, regional and other sources of European funding. Most other European countries have availed of this initiative and are operating it successfully, and the opportunity is still there for Ireland to take it up.

All this illustrates the fact that this government wants to close down rural Ireland, and the inaction of other political parties in this issue does not augur well for the future.

Jack Roche

Rockchapel, Co Cork

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