Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan and member of the Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Heritage, Rural, Regional & Gaeltacht Affairs Niamh Smyth is to host a consultation meeting with local community, business and public service organisations to explore ways to improve and maintain vibrant rural communities.

The meeting will take place in the Bailie Hotel in Bailieborough next Friday, 26th May.

Deputy Smyth explained, “As part of the work being undertaken by the Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Heritage, Rural, Regional & Gaeltacht Affairs, I will be hosting this meeting to hear the views and ideas from people and organisations that are at the heart of their local communities.  The meeting is part of a consultation process to feed into the Committee’s current project, “What it takes to sustain a viable rural community”.  It’s important that local, grassroots organisations get an opportunity to contribute to this discussion, given the fact that they’re best placed to outline what initiatives have worked on the ground.

“I am looking forward to hearing from representatives from the Cavan and Monaghan Job Club, the Chambers of Commerce, the Local Enterprise Offices, Lakeland Dairies and Bailieborough and Cootehill Community Employment.  Officials from Cavan and Monaghan County Councils will also attend.

“Rural communities have seen a significant reduction in the level of services they can access.  Post office and bank branch closures, restricted opening times in rural Garda stations, changes to teacher provision in small schools have all impacted on rural life.  We need to reverse this trend and I’m hopeful that this listening exercise will result in some practical actions which can be adopted by our Committee and recommended to Government.

“Rural communities have been left behind and it’s time for change.  This meeting is a starting point, which will hopefully see some tangible measures introduced to breathe life back into our rural towns and villages”.