Rural youth urged to embrace ‘new normal’ at Macra national AGM

Greater cooperation has been called for among rural young people to face the challenges brought about by Covid-19 at the Macra na Feirme annual general meeting (AGM) over the weekend.

Hosted remotely via Zoom video call, the AGM took place on Saturday, June 6, and saw the outgoing treasurer, Una Ryan, deliver the audited financial statements followed by addresses from the president, chief executive, and sub-committee chairs.

In his address, Macra chief executive Denis Duggan cautioned:

Like all youth and charity organisations, we have significant challenges in responding to Covid-19 and Brexit, only organisations that are agile and responsive are going to survive.

Similarly, Macra president Thomas Duffy called on members and young people to make a return to a better “new normal”, in light of the challenges posed by the coronavirus.

Sub-committee chairs outlined their activities over the last year and thanked their fellow committee members, national office staff for their support and for the support of the executive over the course of their tenure.

The AGM also saw elections for 2020/2021 members of the board of directors:
  • Andrew Doyle of Kilkenny has been elected honorary treasurer;
  • Claire Gough of Meath re-elected honorary secretary;
  • John Keane of North Tipperary has been re-elected as director;
  • Shane Quigley of Mayo has been re-elected as director;
  • Amanda Monahan of Cavan is newly elected as director.

“I congratulate Andrew, Claire, John, Amanda and Shane on their board positions and look forward to working with them over the next year,” said Duffy.

‘New normal’

The president also called for greater cooperation amongst rural young people to face the challenges ahead.

Addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, Duffy called for the building of a better “new normal” that provides more for all young people in rural Ireland.

Duffy also noted that the pandemic has reduced traffic and increased greater working flexibility – something that should continue to exist when we overcome Covid-19.

Duffy called for climate action and a greater ambition on both targets, as well as a fairer distribution of supports between rural and urban Ireland.

The president added that farmers need to create a farmer-led agenda and lead the narrative instead of continuing to deal with a vilification of farmers in the area of greenhouse gas reduction.

The president also called for a fundamental rethink of the strategy of transport and work with an accelerated roll-out of broadband, to enable greater opportunities for remote working, and investment in public transport links.

He noted that these would also help to stimulate greater employment directly in rural Ireland by allowing the creation of a distributed chain of small and medium-sized enterprises to take advantage of the new economy.

In closing, Duffy stated that the predicted economic downturn cannot be used as an excuse or accepted to justify a return to previous policies. In the face of what downturn lay ahead, the president cautioned that young people will not accept the forced emigration witnessed during the 2008 downturn.

Once before in my life we faced an economic downturn which we are now predicted to face again. The ‘solutions’ of the previous recession cannot be repeated.

“The forced emigration that has marred our past, destroyed our families and eaten away at rural Ireland like a cancer, cannot be repeated,” Duffy said.