Sligo Councillor Jerry Lundy has accused the Government of presiding over yet another anti-rural policy, this time in relation to housing strategy.

The Fianna Fáil Councillor was responding to plans by the State heritage agency, An Taisce, to stop the development of one-off housing thereby forcing families to move to towns and villages rather than more rural locations.

Cllr Lundy has described it as yet another attack on rural Ireland.

“An Taisce has consistently pursued housing policies that essentially dismantle rural living across the North West by forcing migration to towns and villages. The State agency’s goal of preserving the rural countryside cannot be at the expense of rural living,” said Cllr Lundy.

“Essentially the organisation’s policies will make it more difficult for children to settle in the same rural areas as their parents.  It discourages rural dwelling away from towns and cities. It flies in the face of the agency’s mandate which is to preserve and promote all aspects of our national heritage, including rural life.  The agency cannot be allowed to undermine rural communities in order to achieve its goal.

“This is yet another attack on rural Ireland, which has been far down the list priorities for this Government.  Rural communities across the North West that have seen local services cut to the bone, jobs lost and local businesses forced to shut down, cuts to local amenities and threats of more cuts to come, are struggling to see any benefit of green shoots in the economy.

“It’s time for rural communities in Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo and Donegal to stand up and say enough is enough. The State should be encouraging the growth of rural communities and supporting rural living, rather than forcing more and more people to move to towns and cities.

“Rural and urban housing policies should complement each other, not compete with each other.  The idea that towns and villages in rural Ireland could survive without a rural population is farcical and shows a worrying lack of understanding about the dynamic of rural Ireland”.