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Last week I attended a public meeting in the small rural village of Bilboa which is part of my parish.
The hall was packed to capacity with many standing outside; all there to fight for the retention of their local post office.
They were filled with dismay at the thought of losing this basic and vital service and with dread at the thought of what the future might hold for their community if it goes.
This meeting came hard on the heels of a different series of public meetings in another part of my parish.
This time the threat was a loss of bus services in the area.
The fear of losing their only public transport links had brought people out in force and after much hard work, by way of negotiating with politicians and various others in authority, a reduced service was retained.
My community is not alone in what it faces. There are endless reports of rural communities facing extinction by way of slow decline as one much needed service after another is taken away from them.
Once vibrant towns and villages are reduced to a shell of what they once were; their young people find it harder and harder to stay with little by way of job prospects and few services to provide a reasonable quality of life.
And, of course, the same factors make it almost impossible to attract new people inwards.
It all makes nonsense of government claims that agriculture and tourism have a major role to play in our economic recovery.
We can’t impose death by a thousand cuts on rural communities which are the beating heart of these sectors and expect them to thrive.
I would therefore urge everyone to make representations to their public representatives, their TDs and councilors and any ministers living in their area, to fight against this ongoing destruction of our rural communities.
If you are an urban dweller, it is important too because what damages the economy in one area damages it as a whole; but it is a thousand times more important if you live in a rural area because your community could well be next.
Revd Patrick G Burke
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