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Rural areas could become country’s economic powerhouse

Dara Bradley

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Country communities can become the economic powerhouse for the West of Ireland, according to a key state agency.

Referring to ‘rural Ireland’, the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) has predicted there is ‘life in the old dog yet’.

David Minton, Director of NWRA, one of the region’s key funding agencies, said rural Ireland is far from dead, and it has the potential to become an economically powerful region in its own right.

Mr Minton said rural communities have three key strengths – its people, energy and resources – and they can be harnessed to make rural Ireland a force to be reckoned with.

“Instead of ushering in its demise, we should see rural Ireland as a region with huge untapped potential and the capacity to lead the emergence of vibrant new economies,” he said.

“Rural Ireland is far from dead. In fact, it’s changing, adapting, reshaping. It has responded to international trends and survived. The people of rural Ireland are the leaders of this global technology change. If anything, we should be asking, how we serve it better? Ireland needs rural Ireland. All we have to do is connect its strengths.

“We need its people, its energy, its resources, its space and its creativity. Ushering in its demise is misguided. Rural Ireland in the future could be a net exporter of energy, water, services and global technology solutions. I see the emergence of new economies and rural Ireland will lead it,” Mr Minton added.

His comments come as the recurrent debate about the future of rural; Ireland rages, with issues such as possible cuts to transport links, poor broadband connectivity and the closure of vital services that connect communities to the fore.

He predicted the bright future for rural Ireland ahead of the ONE Region: ONE Vision conference being organised by NWRA, which will take place in Sligo this December.

It will include debates on entrepreneurship, population loss, jobs, wealth and connectivity in rural areas along the western seaboard.

The conference will also explore the unique possibilities on offer to innovators and job creators in rural communities, “discussing how changing conditions could enhance what’s already one of the most sensational places to live on the continent of Europe.”

Speakers include RTÉ broadcaster Richard Curran, who hosted TV’s ‘Battle for Rural Ireland’, the ESRI’s Chief economist Dr. Edgar Morgenroth, and broadcaster and environmentalist Duncan Stewart and Oliver Daniels of the Insight Centre.

The conference promises to “throw open the doors of possibility and answer challenging questions.”

Mr Minton added: “There will be a focus on what more can be done to maintain rural communities, to build a sustainable future for young people, to create the conditions to enable wealth generation in rural Ireland. These and other questions will be tackled. How do we promote our region’s creativity, space, resources and energy? How do we turn possibilities into reality?”

In January 2015, NWRA replaced the old Border Midland and Western Regional Assembly, which was one of two regions established in 1999 to tap into European structural funds.

Headquartered in Ballaghaderreen, County Roscommon the main role of the NWRA is to manage Border-Midland-West regional operational programmes; monitor the impact of EU and Irish funding on the west and northwest; promote coordination in the provision of services; and ensure national policies take the regions into account.

ONE Region: One Vision will take place at The Model, in Sligo, on December 8 from 1pm to 5pm.

Places can be booked online.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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