President Higgins warns of the challenge of rural depopulation

The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, was at the official opening of the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Tullamore Co. Offaly on the first day of ploughing, Tuesday, September 19.

In his comments at the cermony, the President warned of the issue of rural depopulation, describing it as the “great challenge of our time”.

“Firstly I want to wish all those taking part today every success in what is a difficult time for the tillage sector,” Higgins said, discussing the current state of Irish agriculture.

The President highlighted the importance of farming as an activity, not just as a livelihood, and noted the growing problem of rural depopulation. 

He added that farming was more than just a sector in Ireland and that the challenges that Irish agriculture faced affected us all.


In the President’s address, President Higgins noted the challenges of young people leaving rural areas for the cities, which is leading to urban difficulties.

“If you lose infrastructure, if you lose banks and post offices and services and so forth – at the same time your population is overcrowding into cities that may not have the best planning – so you’re getting rural depopulation and urban diseconomies.

The response to this, he noted, was to ensure that farming in the future is an economically sustainable career choice for young people, where they can adequately provide for themselves.

Later in the day, while speaking on RTE Radio 1, President Higgins said he wouldn’t rule anything out when asked about going for a second term in office.