The former Bishop of Elphin has said that rural Ireland has not benefited from the economic recovery and that the light in small communities is being ‘extinguished’.
Bishop Emeritus Christy Jones was speaking at a meeting of the Council for the West on Friday last in Ballaghaderreen. Co. Roscommon to mark 21 years since the Council was first established.
He began his address to the delegates by recounting a recent news headline which said “Rural Ireland is dying and the Government must act now to save it”.
The Bishop said “There seems to be very little enthusiasm for the topic of rural/urban regeneration. The focus seems to be once again on the big cities and foreign investment. While this is necessary for national economic recovery, once again rural Ireland is being neglected.
“Rural and urban communities are not feeling any benefit from the economic recovery. The closure of cost inefficient Garda stations and post offices and of pubs has created a loss that may be irreversible.
“The journalist [who wrote the headline] calls on the Government to appoint a full time Minister for Rural/Urban regeneration with the necessary resources which are so desperately needed.
“As I read the article I felt sad that once again rural towns and communities are in decline and who cares?
“We hear much about the future of our beef and dairy produce. We hear much about committees to improve the situation but sadly once again rural towns and communities are in decline.
“I was at the formal closing of our primary school recently and remembered that when the light goes out in a home we witness the death of a family but when the light goes out in a school we witness the death of a community. Who is going to keep all those lights alive in rural Ireland?”