The 'Rural Society in Transition:  Planning for  21st Century Rural Potentials and Challenges' seminar took  place on Thursday, 26th April 2018 in Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dundalk, Co. Louth.

Rural areas are diverse, with development affected by the interactions of a range of sectoral policies.  Too often rural policy is determined at the edge of more established policies – whether agriculture, environment or planning.  Instead, rural policy-making must be cross-cutting.   Research tells us that the make-up of rural communities and the rural economy is changing.  The population is aging faster than in urban areas; agriculture is no longer the dominant employer; and issues of deprivation, connectivity, access to services and energy supply remain key challenges. Furthermore, relying on communities themselves to build vibrant communities using the asset-base of the rural is no longer sufficient.

A shared challenge for central, regional and local government, together with rural communities, is to co-design and co-delivery vibrant rural societies that are sustainable into the future.  And to fully understand the implications of following a ‘business as usual’ model.

This event aims to begin an all-island conversation on the interventions required to sustain rural societies across Ireland…and not only sustain but build vibrant rural communities.  This is not just about economic regeneration; rather, it requires a cross-disciplinary dialogue that has regard to economics, planning, community planning, rural development, social inclusion, heritage, and environmental management / protection.  This event will consider the broader challenges and opportunities at play and the policy environment in which rural society must find a defined and legislative context to be an integral part of a Master Plan for “all Society”.

Presentations from the event: 

Rural Potential and Challenges in the 21st Century: Dr. Ruth McAreavey, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University

Rural Policy: A Coherent Approach or Mis-mash?: Mr. Eugene Cummins, Chief Executive, Roscommon County Council

Through a Rural Lens: Programmes, Policy & Practice - Developing or Supporting the Rural?: Dr. Karen Keaveney, Assistant Professor of Rural Development, School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin & Research Associate, ICLRD

Rural Society in Transition: The Changing Role of the Rural Town: Mr. John Higgins, Managing Director, JH Public Affairs Ltd

The Prospects for the Post-Brexit Border: Dr. Katy Hayward, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast & Senior Research Fellow, Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice

Rural Development: A County Strategic Approach: Mr. Leonard Cleary, Director of Rural Development, Clare County Council

Finding a Place for Community Planning in Ireland: Prof. Deborah Peel, Professor Emeritas, University of Dundee

The Role of Digital Technologies in Sustaining Rural Society: Making the Rural Click: Dr. Stephen Brennan, Chief Digital Advisor, Irish Government

Rural Vibrancy Tool: Enabling Rural Society to Best Meet its Potential: Dr. Brendan O’Keeffe, Director, Institute for Action Research & Research Associate, ICLRD