Rural Development CEO sees new policy as a win for Galway

By Maureen Breslin

The CEO of Galway Rural Development, Steve Dolan, believes that Galway residents have much to look forward to from the Government’s 2021-2025 Rural Development Policy.

The Rural Development Policy has been outlined by the Government to promote economic, social, cultural, environmental wellbeing, and development in rural Ireland over the next four years. The plan hopes to promote the quality of jobs and environmental sustainability for Ireland.

Photo courtesy of GRD

“The role of local development companies is interwoven throughout the strategy, and the rollout of the national broadband plan provides an opportunity for unleashing the potential of rural areas. On the face of it, this appears to be positive for all local development companies and we look forward to working with the government to ensure funding for new projects in Galway is provided,” said Mr Dolan.

Mr Dolan said that many people’s reactions in Galway have been cautiously welcoming.

“The reaction in Galway was – on the whole – disappointing. Both county newspapers and the county radio station offered only cautious welcomes. It is important therefore, if the government is to ‘bring the people with them’ that they not over-promise. There is a long journey ahead, well beyond five years, but as repeatedly stated the proposals must be matched by policy and resources,” he said.

Mr Dolan believes that Dubliners would have a lot to gain by moving to Galway.

“There is less of a focus on consumption, and more on the natural environment. I feel confident Dubliners would be happy with their choice,” said Mr Dolan.

However, Mr Dolan acknowledged the potential issues for people moving down from the capital.

“Dubs are always shocked by the poor infrastructure with, for example, public transport options which are often non-existent in rural county Galway. They would also have to accept that work opportunities may be more limited,” he said.

COVID-19 restrictions have changed the way most people work and Mr Dolan believes this could also have an impact. Working from home is likely to stay after the pandemic which could give more opportunity to people in the West, and for people from Dublin to migrate to the West for employment. 

The Rural Development Policy also outlines the creation of wider broadband access, which could make Galway more alluring to people who are seeking to spread out to the West of Ireland.

“With our partners Kilkenny Leadership Partnership and IRD Duhallow, we intend on leading a national ‘Smart Villages’ initiative which will complement the ‘Our Rural Future’ agenda. Smart Villages are about channelling the energy, vision and commitment of local people towards action. It is about a process, where the local community takes on an active role in shaping its own future.

“Every village and countryside can be smart, but it requires effective support programmes which are designed to be flexible and can be used by local communities to address their needs and unlock local potential,” he said.

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