Thursday, 15 July 2021
Department of Rural and Community Development
My Department published Our Rural Future, a new five-year rural development policy, in March this year. It is the most ambitious and transformational policy for rural development in Ireland for decades.
The policy has a vision for a sustainable and vibrant rural Ireland, one in which communities, including young people, are empowered to take an active role in the decisions affecting them.
While my Department has not undertaken specific studies on the impact of youth emigration on rural Ireland, my officials and I are fully aware of the challenges and opportunity costs associated with young people leaving rural areas.
In developing the Policy, we listened carefully to young people in rural areas about their aspirations and the challenges they face.
Our Rural Future acknowledges the importance of encouraging and facilitating young people to become and remain active and engaged in the future of their communities. The policy was developed after an extensive consultation process which included events co-designed with organisations such as Foróige, tailored to listening to young people from rural Ireland to better understand their perspectives.
Their feedback was valuable and these workshops helped us to identify a number of measures which will directly benefit young people and ensure their continued engagement. These include a commitment to establish an annual Rural Youth Assembly, the first of which is scheduled to take place later this year, and to undertake research on outcomes for children and young people in rural areas. Our consultation process also incorporated an online public survey, which endorsed our initial key findings.
To ensure that young people’s opinions continue to be considered, my officials are engaged in ongoing bilateral discussions and collaborations with relevant departments and agencies, including the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.