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Minister set to open Irish Rural Link anniversary event

Minister Heather Humphreys

Irish Rural Link (IRL), based in Moate – the national network representing the interests of rural communities, is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a conference entitled ‘A Changing Rural Ireland 1991-2051’ on Friday 6 May at the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone.

IRL was established in 1991 and since then huge changes have taken place in rural Ireland. Rural communities have faced many challenges and many of them still persist today.

We continue to witness the closure of essential rural services, the loss of jobs, a declining and aging population and the migration of young people to take up better quality employment opportunities in cities and major centres. urban. However, there have also been some positive changes in recent years.

The development of remote and digital work centers and the roll-out of high-speed broadband can help make rural areas a place where people can work close to home and enable people to become more engaged and play a more important role in their rural community.

With a panel of rural development experts and influencers, the conference will reflect on how rural Ireland has changed over the past 30 years, the lessons we can learn from these changes and the opportunities and challenges that await us for the next 30 years. It will examine topics such as rural planning, rural enterprise, the changing role of women, the development of rural communities, and the changes in agriculture and farm life over the past 30 years.

The event will then explore the opportunities and challenges rural Ireland may face over the next 30 years in terms of environmental challenge, transport, rural development and how government policies can support and address these opportunities and challenges.

Seamus Boland, CEO of Irish Rural Link, said: “Rural Ireland has faced many challenges over the past 30 years; high emigration and migration to large towns and cities; ageing population; closure of services; loss of jobs, etc. Irish Rural Link has provided a platform for communities in rural areas to share their concerns and come up with possible solutions to revive their local community and make rural Ireland a more sustainable place to work and live”.

“IRL sees many opportunities for rural Ireland and sees it at the forefront of delivering many solutions as we tackle climate change, rising food and energy costs, the transition to a more green and more digitized as well as a greater sense of well-being for people and communities,” he added.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions in place in 2021, IRL has postponed this celebratory conference until now. He wanted to host this conference in person as it is an opportune time to recognize and commemorate the work done by our Community Champions, as part of the Covid-19 IRL Community Outreach Program delivered in partnership with their colleagues at The Wheel. These champions dedicated their time during the early months of Covid-19 to help those who needed it most during the lockdown restrictions and ensured they were linked to essential services.

The conference will be opened by Rural and Community Development Minister Heather Humphreys, who will also present to community champions.

It starts at 9.30am with tea/coffee and registration from 9.15am on Friday 6th May at the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone.

More details about the conference, list of speakers and to register are available on the Irish Rural Link website or you can register via Eventbrite.