This morning, Monday 3rd February, at an organic farm on the Turkshead Peninsula, Cllr Holly Cairns, the Social Democrats Spokesperson on Agriculture and Cork South West General Election candidate, launches the Party’s policy document ‘Building Sustainable Rural Communities.’

Cllr. Holly Cairns said:

“For too long, rural development has been framed as some sort of urban rural divide. However, the quality of life issues that people have in urban areas are no less felt within rural communities. Costs of childcare, commutes to work, affordable housing, access to good quality healthcare or disability services are core concerns of people all across west Cork. The impact of these challenges can be felt differently in rural communities, leading to de-population, isolation and mental challenges.

“It’s time to shout stop, to have a government who will have a clear focus on ideas and innovations that are specifically designed to halt the decline in our rural communities.

“We’re putting forward solutions, which include investment in good quality public services, accessible local transport that links our towns and villages, investment that builds new economic and job creation opportunities and regeneration measures for our towns.

“We also need strong supports for our agriculture and fisheries sectors, the lifeblood of our rural communities. Change is coming and we want to bring solutions that don’t involve a cliff-edge with no supports or alternatives in place. These solutions should be fair, not only to our current farmers, but to the next generation of farmers too. To achieve this, we need robust and sustainable support from the state. It is not too late to save our rural communities.”

Catherine Murphy, the party’s co-leader added

“What Ireland does best is community. It’s something that must be nurtured and supported in order to thrive. For too long, successive governments have put rural communities on the back burner. This lack of attention and targeted investment has led to unbalanced regional development and a hollowing out of many of our rural communities.

“We need to invest in the kinds of services that allow people to live and thrive outside of urban areas. This means decent health services that are focussed on primary care, affordable good quality housing, and childcare services that give people the opportunity to take up paid employment. If we invest in good quality public services, we will create an environment where our rural communities can rebuild and thrive again.”

[ENDS 3rd February 2020]

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