Deenihan welcomes publication's critique


THE book Poverty in Rural Ireland raises valid questions and, where it was critical, its criticisms were welcome, according to Minister of State for Agriculture, Mrs Jimmy Deenihan.

Announcing the publication yesterday, the Minister said he had set up a rural development policy advisory group. "What inspired me to set up the group was that we can no longer rely on a farming base to ensure the survival of rural society. We have to look at other ways," he said.

"We need a vision of the type of Ireland we want in 15 or 20 years time, and the development of policies to bring this about." The group had adopted a multi-departmental approach and hoped to have a plan based on equality, equity and social justice developed by Easter, he said.

The research manager of the Combat Poverty Agency, Ms Helen Johnston, said that up to now, rural poverty was understood in terms of poor areas, poor communities and poor farmers.

This study aimed to identify those at risk of living in poverty and the factors which affected their life chances.

Referring to the need for policy changes to deal with rural poverty, she urged government and state agencies to place the problem in the context of global and national policies and which, therefore, could not have purely local solutions. Programmes like LEADER could only complement national strategy.

The National Anti-Poverty Strategy should also be applied to rural areas, she said.