You are here

Policy issues concerning Rural Development

As we navigate through the global crisis caused by Covid-19, it is clear that our communities, rural areas and regions will bear a significant social and economic impact over the long-term.  Here we outline rural and regional investment priorities for Budget 2021.


A sustainable environment, a sustainable society and a sustainable economy require thriving communities across the entire country, but especially in rural areas.  It requires leadership and commitment on the policies required to move to a low carbon future, and also requires that we measure what counts.

As we navigate the crisis caused by COVID-19, it is likely that rural areas will bear a significant social and economic impact over the medium-term, at least. The challenges that faced rural Ireland prior to the current pandemic remain, and new challenges have emerged, not least the impact of a potentially prolonged period of unemployment on areas that were already struggling. In this article, we look at the employment effects of the lockdown by county.

Restructuring agriculture and supporting and incentivising farmers to move to more sustainable agricultural practices is integral to a Just Transition in Ireland.  One of the fundamental principles of a Just Transition is to leave no people, communities, economic sectors or regions behind as we transition to a low carbon future.  A clear pathway for the farming community outlining how they will be supported as part of a Just Transition, and the benefits of sustainable farming practice to our environment, natural capital and to their household incomes is essential.

As we navigate through the global crisis caused by COVID-19, it is clear that rural areas will bear a significant social and economic impact over the long-term.  The challenges that faced rural Ireland prior to the current pandemic such as higher poverty rates, lower incomes, fewer public services remain, and new challenges have emerged, not least the impact of a potentially prolonged period of unemployment on areas that were already struggling.

The European Union faces many challenges in relation to healthcare, cost of housing and financial distress that will be further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Ireland and the EU urgently need to develop substantial coordinated actions on these issues.  ​

Some of the key challenges facing rural Ireland are an older population, higher poverty rates and greater distances from every day services compared to urban areas.  If we want viable rural communities in all parts of Ireland what is possible in the next five years and what policy proposals would move us forward?  

Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Rural Ireland for an outline of a number of key challenges facing rural Ireland and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

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.

Pages