Seamus Boland heads up Irish Rural Link in Moate.

IRL says census highlights continuing regional imbalance

Moate-based Irish Rural Link (IRL), the national network representing the interest of rural communities, believes the Census of Population 2022 published last week, shows there continues to be imbalance in regional development.

While all counties showed an increase in population in the 5 years to 2022, population grew faster in the eastern part of the country. This region also had the youngest population, with more rural counties of Mayo, Kerry, Roscommon and Leitrim having the oldest population.

The Dublin and Greater Dublin Area continue to attract the majority of high-quality jobs, with almost half of multi-nationals locating in the region. The long commuting times people shows that placing all development in the Greater Dublin Area is no longer sustainable.

While the number of people working from home increased, and many people moved to rural areas during Covid-19, it cannot be viewed as regional balance and should not replace companies having a physical presence in other regions of the country.

IRL is now calling for a review of targets in Project 2040 and revisit the Hub and Gateway towns that were set out in the National Spatial Strategy 2002-2020.

Achieving regional balance must be a top priority for this Government and successive governments to ensure that people can access quality employment close to where they live.