Irish Rural Link is proposing that Rural Protocol should be first consulted before the closure of any services in rural Ireland. Such a protocol might save a great deal of negative energy and anxiety expended by rural communities in order to defend, what seems to be an ongoing attempt to disenfranchise rural areas. So, before outlining it in more detail, let me put the need for such a protocol in context.
In rural Ireland, services have a habit of closing. Among the more prominent are the Post Office branches, Bank branches, national schools, pubs, shops and not to mention the occasional downgrade of hospitals from time to time. Yet all national and European union policy points to the urgency to renew rural communities so that they can become sustainable in economic and social terms. Currently there is much anticipation of the implementation of the CEDRA report launched by An Taoiseach in April 2014 and the implementation of the European Union Rural Development package, with particular interest in the new LEADER programme.
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