Kerry rural ambassador says re-imagining necessary as ‘we can no longer pretend everything can stay open’

Rural Development Officer Pat Spillane delivers a rousing speech on rural Ireland at the official opening of the North East and West Kerry Development (NEWKD) new office on WIlliam Street, Listowel on Tuesday. The new office will house the local development partnership for NEWKD and delivers many different development programmes focussing on community led initatives. newkd currently employs over 320 people and has an annual turnover of €3m. Photo: Don MacMonaglerepro free photo from NEWKD Further information: [email protected] Trisha Dowling 087 7700870

Rural Ireland can no longer ‘pretend everything can stay open’ and communitites need to challenge themselves in re-imagining a different kind of future.

That’s according to Ambassador for Realising Rural Potential under the Action Plan for Rural Development Pat Spillane who says while rural dwellers deserve the same access to jobs and services, rationalisation is needed.

Mr Spillane, who previously held the Chair of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas, said an imbalance has been created in this country, evidenced in unemployment blackspots in large rural towns.

Communities in the peripheral regions have also fallen behind he said, but there are positives as the highest percentage of growth since 2012 has occurred in the Midlands.

The Templenoe native said people in rural communities need to ‘challenge themselves’ in doing things differently, to how things were done in the past.

He said while closures may be inevitable, multi-service centres in rural areas may provide an alternative: