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Policy issues concerning Rural Development

Budget 2020 does not contain the ‘bold and new decisions’ required to meet the ‘defining challenge’ of climate change, and there was no progress on examining subsidies that the CSO has highlighted as potentially environmentally damaging.

The Department of Rural and Community Development last week launched a public consultation (primarily aimed at people living and working in rural Ireland) on the development of Rural Policy.  This coincides with the end of the Action Plan for Rural Development, which launched in January 2017 and ends at the end of this year.  The online survey is open until the 11th October.  Addressing the many issues with rural development is a key policy area for Social Justice Ireland.  Check out some of our recent work in this area to support you to have your say.

Our Budget 2020 submission contains a half a billion euro investment package that would allow rural and regional Ireland needs to thrive, including in areas of tourism, rural transport, enterprise, and rural broadband.

The negative impact on rural towns and communities from the potential fallout from Brexit is receiving welcome attention at present.  But what about the other threat to rural Ireland and regional development - the impact that automation and robotics will have on employment across the regions?  This issue should be front and centre as Government rolls out the Climate Action Plan and the National Development Plan.

The increasingly imbalanced state of Gaelic football is merely one symptom of our imbalanced society. Ireland's current model, with so much development focused on the capital, precludes the kind of regional balance required for Ireland - and the GAA - to thrive.

The Government has failed to respond adequately to our nation’s housing crisis. There are almost 87,000 households on social housing waiting lists - over half of whom are families - and 10,000 homeless, of whom 3,600 are children. This is a national emergency. The impact of homelessness and precarious housing on our nation’s children will be felt for generations to come.

Broadband timetable
Broadband Plan Timetable

The provision of quality Broadband to all citizens has been an objective of many Governments since 2008.  This graphic illustrates some of the stages to date.  Following the withdrawal of two of the three bidders for the licence to provide this essential service, delivery seems even further away.

The current approach to housing policy in Ireland is not working; the private sector will never build social housing units on the scale required.  Government must commit to building sufficient social housing units to eliminate the current housing waiting list.  This is the only way to address Ireland’s ongoing housing and homelessness crisis.  This is a key finding of Social Justice Ireland's National Social Monitor 2017.

The latest issue of Social Justice Ireland's Employment Monitor examines regional employment trends.  Figures released in August by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show a wide divergence in the experiences of Ireland’s different regions as regards unemployment and job creation trends.

There will be nearly 1 million people aged 65 and over by 2031 – an increase of 86.4 per cent.  Of these 136,000 will be aged 85 or over by 2031, an increase of 132.8 per cent.  Now is the time to plan Ireland’s investment in services and infrastructure. This is one of the key issues highlighted in the National Social Monitor 2016.

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