Roscommon business and farming communities have been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in many changes to how we do business in the county. With this in mind, Dan Dooner asked a number of Rossies about what the future holds for the county…
‘We haven’t sold ourselves well enough as a county’
“It has now been established that a lot of people are now working remotely, which was not expected pre-Covid lockdown. We therefore urgently need high-speed broadband in homes across the county or an increase in the possibility of having broadband ‘hubs’ where people can work from. The big offices are no longer where people will work due to the virus and Roscommon has a huge advantage due to our wide open spaces.
“Secondly, we have to incentivise employers to come to Roscommon and create jobs. We haven’t sold ourselves well enough as a county with the advantages we have. Everything has changed in recent months and while there are many negatives associated with Covid-19, County Roscommon can turn some of those negatives into positives and become a places where people can relocate to”.
– Cllr. Laurence Fallon, Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council on how the county can become a hub for remote workers.
“I have felt so much safer and more comfortable here in Roscommon since I started working remotely for The Irish Times. The fresh air and wide open spaces gave me headspace on hard days, and being back in the community I was reared in was a comfort to me. I miss my colleagues in Dublin and the structure of office life, but I hope in the future I can balance both”.
– Niamh Towey, Irish Times journalist on remote working and a more sustainable work-life balance.
“There are grants available for young farmers but they only go so far. There needs to be a wholesome conversation within families around the idea of succession and handing over the reins completely to sons and daughters.
“There is still maybe a stigma around handing over control of the family farm and you can’t blame the older generations, especially full-time farmers who need the income.
“There is a good start made by Government in relation to tax breaks but more needs to be done and a conversation maybe involving agencies such as Teagasc and Macra na Feirme needs to take place.
“Everyone’s situation is different and when I came out of college in 2016, a neighbour’s farm came up for lease and I knew that was the route I wanted to go down. The advice I would always give young farmers is to consider renting a farm”.
– Eddie Egan, Macra na Feirme’s South Roscommon Young Farmer Development Group on handing the reins to the next generation of Irish farmers.
“The first thing we need to do is to open up rural Ireland and make it a more attractive place to live and stay. That means providing broadband and the infrastructure to make it easier to get from place to place.
“We also need to open up local services. We were very glad to be in the countryside during lockdown and to be able to get out in the fresh air but we do need to breathe new life into our rural towns and villages.
“One way we can do that is to look into development plans and grants provided for renovating older houses. We need to make it easier for people to relocate to the countryside”.
– Lucy Carty, local businesswoman on the importance of making relocation to the countryside an attractive proposition for employees.
“The first thing I’m going to mention is the need for high-speed broadband. The Covid pandemic has shown it means a huge amount to people and businesses.
“I would also say we need a recognised centre of excellence in terms of business training and education. An Institute of Technology, for example, would attract professional expertise and encourage research and innovation in County Roscommon.
“We also need to move towards attracting a large multi-national companies away from the major urban areas. The Government has been so focussed on pushing these companies to places like Dublin that now there are problems (with overcrowding, etc.).
“Recreation and leisure facilities are also needed with full diversity for both young and old to make full use of the countryside.
“Infrastructure such as light rail servicing every major town is vital too. This will go towards the current global move to prevent people from having to commute huge distances”.
– Mary Hennigan, Network Ireland Roscommon branch on improving our rural network.