Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Church will back rural revival efforts, says bishop

Killaloe’s Bishop Fintan Monahan has welcomed an ambitious new plan to revive rural Ireland and said the Church will do its best to be proactive in maintaining rural life. 

The bishop’s comments come following the announcement of ‘Realising our Rural Potential: Action Plan for Rural Development’, a €60 million plan intended to revive Ireland’s rural towns and generate 135,000 jobs.

“This action plan is a most welcome announcement for rural areas,” Dr Monahan told The Irish Catholic, continuing: “Country towns, villages and remote areas have been struggling terribly in recent years and any grant aid will be a huge boost.”

Dr Monahan, who spoke ahead of his September ordination about how boosting life in rural Ireland should be a key task for the Church, later saying the Government should give it more attention, said, “Over the past six months in various Church areas in the diocese of Killaloe many people have expressed great concern about the struggle for communities to continue to thrive. In the few weeks before Christmas in almost every rural Church area, day centre and home for the elderly this, sadly, was a constant refrain.”

Effect

The bishop complimented those tasked with authoring and giving effect to the plan, saying: “Well done to the public representatives who are working in this area to bring about this important initiative which will help overcome rural isolation and hardship,” and added, “The Church will continue as far as possible also to be proactive in this area to ensure services are maintained, as far as resources will allow.”

However, others have reservations about the plan, with Fianna Fáil’s Éamon Ó Cuív TD saying it “lacks substance”, while NUI Maynooth’s Professor Jim Walsh said it “should be welcomed”, but would be “challenging” to implement.

Expressing particular concern about the plan’s meaningful targets, he drew attention on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland to its failure to identify key issues. 

“What is missing from the plan is a priorisation – of over 270 actions in there, there isn’t a shortlist of what are the top 10,” he said.

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