Ru­ral ac­tion plan must be fol­lowed through

The Argus - - OPINION - with Deb­o­rah Coleman

THE newly launched ac­tion plan on ru­ral de­vel­op­ment is not be­fore time.

For years we have been cry­ing out for some at­ten­tion and in­vest­ment in ru­ral ar­eas all over the coun­try yet it has fallen on deaf ears.

If fully im­ple­mented, this plan ap­pears to be quite pos­i­tive but ac­tu­ally get­ting it over the line is the real chal­lenge.

These sorts of ‘ ac­tion plans’ are al­ways packed full of prom­ises that peo­ple des­per­ately want to see ful­filled, yet it is rare that they all fully come to fruition.

If there was an elec­tion in the morn­ing, this plan would be out the win­dow and the prom­ises to ru­ral Ireland along with it.

It aims to en­tice peo­ple back into small towns and vil­lages with the prom­ise of more jobs, greater in­vest­ment, bet­ter trans­port links and fur­ther sup­port for in­dus­tries such as fish­ing and farm­ing.

This is no eu­reka mo­ment – sim­ply what has been needed since be­fore the re­ces­sion.

How could any Gov­ern­ment ex­pect peo­ple to be pas­sion­ate about liv­ing in a com­mu­nity with­out jobs and that can barely be ac­cessed with­out a car?

Through­out the re­ces­sion numer­ous en­trepreneurs took the plunge and started small busi­nesses in many of these towns only to go belly up within a year or two - and where was the sup­port for them then? They couldn’t even claim the dole af­ter­wards.

De­cen­tral­i­sa­tion pre­vi­ously claimed that jobs would be cre­ated in coun­ties out­side Dublin so that many of those liv­ing in Dublin purely for em­ploy­ment rea­sons, would be af­forded the op­por­tu­nity to move back to their roots if they so wished. This wasn’t fully rolled out ei­ther, de­spite all the prom­ises.

It is true that we are liv­ing within a twotier econ­omy and while this ac­tion plan prom­ises a lot, I don’t think a three-year time frame is long enough.

These ru­ral ar­eas, which the plan fo­cuses on have been de­pleted of jobs, pop­u­la­tion and in­vest­ment over many years, which can­not be re­versed quickly.

This plan must be fol­lowed through and for­got­ten ar­eas can’t be given false hope. They are al­ready won­der­ing where this so­called ‘re­cov­ery’ is be­cause out­side Dublin, many peo­ple sim­ply are not feel­ing it yet.

Those towns which have more va­cant re­tail and in­dus­trial units than ever be­fore will take a lot of con­vinc­ing, that the tide is turn­ing.

Ru­ral ac­tion plans are al­ways packed full of prom­ises that peo­ple des­per­ately want to see ful­filled, yet it is rare that they all fully come to fruition.

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