‘Rural issues hinder resettlement proposal’ – IRL chief

The reopening of the Rural Resettlement Scheme and giving people on the social housing waiting list a financial incentive to move out of Dublin into a rural area, as proposed by Dublin City Council – while a simplistic idea – would not be as simplistic in reality, according to Seamus Boland, CEO of Irish Rural Link (IRL).

The Rural Resettlement programme was suspended in 2012 but previously helped 800 families to move outside the capital.

“Many rural communities would welcome people returning to rural areas and coming into rural areas as it could mean saving the local school or other services in that rural town or village,” he said.

However, there are problems in rural towns and villages in that there are no jobs, nor the infrastructure – such as transport – nor indeed the houses available, the IRL CEO said.

“Local authorities all across the country have long housing waiting lists and the building of social housing by local authorities is not meeting the required demand. A lack of availability of housing in the private sector market is an issue for the whole of the country.”

The main reason people move, Seamus contended, is opportunity. “People are migrating to Dublin from the midlands and the west. People migrate into the other cities also for opportunities and to access services that are not available in rural areas or cannot be accessible without transport,” said the IRL chief.

Jobs are not as plentiful outside Dublin and are often lower paid jobs that would not afford a basic standard of living for many families. While there has been some improvement in the quality of jobs created in the regions, it still lacks behind what is available in Dublin and even Cork and Galway.

“The 2040 plan was published and launched in January 2018 but there is no implementation plan for this. This plan set out a more regional balance of growth across the country and improved provision of services such as transport and housing across the country which would allow people to remain or return to live in regions,” said Seamus.

“There is also an urgent need to reform our planning laws which would speed up applications and remove the uncertainty of the long drawn out appeals process. Regions also need to link the work of educational institutions with the requirements of the areas,” said the IRL spokesman.