Rural resettlement is a tool for rural regeneration - Carol Nolan TD
Commending the community of Kiltyclogher Co. Leitrim on their recent Rural Resettlement initiative, Carol Nolan Sinn Féin spokesperson on Rural Development has called for a revival of a national Rural Resettlement Scheme to mitigate the impact of rural depopulation and stimulate the regeneration of our rural communities.
Referencing the "Age Profile in Ireland" publication from the April 2016's Census, Ms Nolan stated that preparing for Irelands changing demographics is critical to the future sustainability of rural Ireland.
The Census data set out the challenge facing Government as it grapples with an increasingly urban population, where the youth flock to the cities and towns for education and job opportunities and the age profile of rural Ireland grows older.
The effects of this outward migration have already begun to impact heavily on some rural communities such as Kiltyclogher in Leitrim, the birthplace of Sean MacDiarmada. In 2017 the border village, with a population of just 233 people, had only 14 pupils registered for the September academic year which would have resulted in a closure of the school.
In an effort to save the two-teacher school the local community set about soliciting families with young children in large cities to come and live in the area. The campaign was such a huge success that six families have now relocated and taken up permanent residency in the village and the school has been returned to viability.
Deputy Nolan said:
“This Government must face the challenge of rural depopulation head-on before a two tier Ireland becomes an irreversible outcome. The Census data is empirical evidence that unless there is a strategic intervention to stem depopulation, rural communities will be plummeted into rapid decline.
“But let’s not over-complicate this given that a perfectly workable model of best practice was previously in existence which now can be replicated and scaled nationally.”
Rural Resettlement Ireland was a national Scheme which was started in Kilrush Co. Clare by founding member Jim Connolly. Operating as a charitable body it supported the resettlement of 800 families from urban communities to rural communities during its 21yrs of operation prior to its dissolution in 2016.
Until 2012 the organisation received core funding from the exchequer but the discontinuation of funds in 2012 contributed significantly to its demise.
It is now time for Government to recommit core funding to a new Rural Resettlement Initiative under the national planning framework document Ireland 2040 visionary plan, which seeks to attain sustainable development for the entire country.
Teachta Nolan continued:
“Social and economic issues such as our housing crisis, unemployment and medical services will not simply be resolved by increasing investment but also in the redistribution of investment and people.
“I will be advocating with my Sinn Féin colleagues for the revival of successful initiatives such as the Rural Resettlement Scheme which is a mutually rewarding outcome for both the families who relocate and the host communities.”ENDS