Aughavas Community Calling seeks positive action on rural Ireland

Aughavas Community Calling says it expects positive action to be taken at the top political level to address the issues impacting rural communities going forward.

In a statement issued following the confirmation that St Joseph’s National School is to lose a teacher due to low enrollment numbers, the group says that while families had expressed an interest in moving to the area, the shortage of suitable accommodation impeded an actual relocation.

However, since Aughavas Community Calling was first set up and a media attention was drawn to the depopulation of the area, there has been a number of positive developments.

The school has set up a breakfast club and has made provision for an afterschool service but it says there are challenges beyond its control that need to be addressed at political level.

These include planning laws and directives that it says make it almost impossible for a young couple starting a home together, to build and live in a rural area.

The groups says the last planning permission granted for a one-off house in the Aughavas address area was in March 2016.

There have been no planning permissions granted since that date for one-off houses. In the last five years planning permission has been granted for just two one-off rural houses in the Aughavas address area.

It also points to the lack of jobs opportunities locally, the lack of sustainable income from farming and no opportunities to increase farms to a more viable size due to substantial tax assisted competition from large Forestry companies.

It also cites a lack of vision for the future of Ireland, which emphasises short term economic benefit by cramming more and more people into already unsustainable urban areas.

The group says it expects positive action to be taken at the top political level to address all the shortcomings that have forced the continued depopulation of rural areas.

It says the present battle may have been lost but the overall war for the survival of small rural communities is very much alive and that the resilience of its community will see it through its present difficulties to brighter times ahead.