Rebuilding Rural Ireland  Code 22 Sept 2020

We continue to assess the ramifications of both the public health and financial consequences of Covid 19 and the yet to be defined, Brexit.


Most business sectors will, and continued to be impacted. A very fine piece of ESRI i research by Martina Lawless, ESRI and Luke Daly, Department of Finance delves into some of the possible consequences for business segments

The current financial support measures are directed towards most business sectors. However, logic suggests this cannot continue in the short term. There are and will be business casualties

Outside of the main media focus, the danger to rural Ireland’s already depleted economy fails to achieve profile or priority

The key economic element of Rural Ireland was farming. In past decades the viability of small scale farming has not embraced reality. As a result the rural economy has continued its decline. Various support measures by government departments have failed to stem this progression.

Community Development

Community development has two pillars, Social and Economic. The Social element can never be fully appreciated in its range of supports, Meals on Wheels, Rural Link and so much more.

Sadly the Economic aspect of Community Development generally falls short of expectations and requirements

A comprehensive report was published in 2017. The research was sourced from a nearly nationwide input of Community Development organisations. A number of key recommendations were made to government, and, ignored. In the interim local economic development needs have altered significantly.

Most of the current economic support structures now on offer to Rural and Community Enterprises are no longer fit for purpose.

Regional Development was touted as a panacea for all needs and development and results were never questioned.


The origin of the EU inspired Regional Development was mainland Europe. Established regions had existed in Europe for centuries. The transition to the EU Regional Development model was nearly seamless as the necessary Demographic and Geographic scale existed. Ireland failed to meet this criteria and still made application

Regional Development in Ireland has had a mixed bag. There was an element with the farming sector where synergies already existed within that industry, However Regional Development in Ireland was not prone to any evaluation or indeed local infrastructural support.


In view of the prevailing facts, an adult conclusion must accept that:

1 We face an ongoing rural decline impervious to existing economic support measures

2 Health and financial effects from Covid

3 The ongoing Brexit exit

4 An adult acceptance that traditional rural economic measures are generally no longer fit for purpose.

5 Given the present facts, Rural Ireland is now facing some vulnerability.

6 There is very little strategy or innovation presented to counter the present and pending downturn

There seems to be a marked reluctance by some bodies, agencies and departments to acknowledge any danger or indeed engage in any discussion/ dialogue.. We have yet to see any innovative strategies to rebuild rural Ireland

360 Degree Development is presented as a rural development network. This is presented as a template, adaptable where possible, to specific local economic needs.

Each Growth Hub is linked to its peers and then linked to a county based hub.

Market segmentation has two elements.

1 Rural Communities with an interest in pursuing economic development models.

2 Micro operations, employing less than 9 persons

Support will be needed for those in the farming sector but this may not be fully ascertained until Brexit is evaluated

Initial Steps

The relevant departments must acknowledge the need for change in support, policy and direction

Key players should be LEO, Local Enterprise Offices, Teagasc, Udaras, LEADER and IOM Independent Operations Management.

The initial discussion should agree on the deletion of those programmes no longer fit for purpose. Those remaining support measures should then be incorporated into an agreed OPERATIONAL plan. This is about reintegration of more effective strategies, new and old, to quickly deliver effective results

The recent announcement of rural bank branch closures further confirms rural economic discrimination


Re National Economic Dialogue 2015

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Department of Finance


Re Joint Committee on Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht.

Sustaining viable Rural Communities Nov 2017

Re The Economy of the Atlantic Corridor.

A Study of County Mayo

Dr John Bradley Mar 2019

Re Northern and Western Regional Assembly.

Region in Transition. The Way Forward

John Daly 2019

Re ESRI Working Paper  677

Martina Lawless ESRI Luke Daly Department of Finance 2020



The AEC Report has yielded one local development module in its operational area

NWRA reports an EU downgrade of its Regional Development Model. The report also highlights a near decade long departmental underspend in Healthcare, Education and Transport.

Rather than a presentation of statistically driven reports, the visual confirmation is more than ample confirmation. What were once vibrant rural communities, villages and towns are now virtual Ghost Towns.The Regional Development models calls for regional, centralized development centres, which logically brings increases commutor traffic which in turn conflicts with carbon reduction plans.

Rural development has been stunted by the lack of access to planning permission for rural housing and the very poor delivery of the National Broadband Plan  and inferior local roads structure.

Rural Ireland has had a self-help legacy that can be re-engaged to drive and promote viable local economies.

The very evident rural decline over past decades is more than ample proof of the inadequaties of the prevailing support measures.

360 Degree Development aspires to be a RECOVERY and DEVELOPMENT template, given some level of co-operation can be introduced to every county in Ireland.

 “We believe that in the absence of a solidly based economic and enterprise dimension, sustainable and rural objectives are likely to prove very difficult to achieve” Dr John Bradley

For questions, criticism or further information, John Moran This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  087 25 27 407