Muintir na Tire National President Paddy Byrne visited Cork last week to attend the Annual General Meeting of Cork County Federation. Wexford native Mr Byrne updated the membership on the issues facing Muintir na Tire and rural communities in the aftermath of the collapse of the Celtic Tiger.
He particularly emphasized the threat of villages losing their local doctor because it was no longer viable for GP's to set up practice as a result of government policy.
"After the closure of post offices, banks and garda stations, now many rural areas won't have a GP. That is our fear," said Mr Byrne. Cuts in government supports have made setting up a country practice financially unviable. He said that rural GPs have been hit hardest by cuts, which means many young doctors feel a career as a country doctor is simply unsustainable. He said hundreds of older GPs are due to retire in the next year, which will leave many communities without a permanent local doctor" He urged the HSE and the government to take corrective measures as the current trends in emigration and retirement will result in fewer general practitioners to treat patients in rural areas in the next 10 years,"
Despite all these threats Mr Byrne said that many rural communities remain vibrant with local people coming together in Muintir na Tire Community Councils to do all they can to keep their communities sustainable. Millions of Euro have been leveraged by community groups in an effort to make rural areas better places to live and grow up in. This has been done by local fundraising, County council funding and Rural Development Funding. He urged all communities to get organised in order to avail of any supports available to them. He said that Muintir na Tire would continue to give support to any local group to help them with their organisation and structures. He said that Muintir will be setting up focus groups all over the country to ensure that Muintir na Tire remains focused and as relevant as ever to rural Ireland.