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Fears for rural Donegal

Despite the fact figures show there are now more people living in Donegal since pre-famine times, many rural areas of the county are witnessing a decrease.

Along with other preliminary data, the CSO have also published a map which clearly shows the widespread decrease in population across Donegal.

According to the preliminary data released, Donegal also has the second highest number of vacant housing units, at 28.5 per cent.

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It also shows that for Donegal in recent years migration is up significantly, increasing by 11.5 per cent between 2002 to 2006 and increasing by 10.6 per cent between 2006 and 2011.

Calls have now been made for urgent action to be taken to safeguard the future of rural Donegal and put measures in place to halt further depopulation.

Speaking after last week’s publication of figures, west Donegal Councillor, Marie Therese Gallagher stated: “The map clearly illustrates the effect centralisation policies are having on rural Donegal. While many parts of this county have had an increase in population the rural areas are witnessing a decrease, with some rural areas having a small increase.”

Cllr Gallagher claimed this situation has been brought about as a result of the ‘National Planning Strategy’.
“The County Development plan which is presently out for public consultation, will further add to the trends that have emerged this week. The Core strategy within the draft plan is to centralise population growth into larger towns, this will add to the depopulation of rural areas and smaller towns and villages.”

The Council added that Sinn Fein have outlined their opposition to the core strategy within the plan, identifying depopulation of rural areas as a major concern over the next six years.
“The figures that have been collated should now act as an incentive to invest in these areas, to create opportunities and provide services so that local people have the opportunity to remain in their home towns.”
The population changes map has also painted a frightening picture Gaeltacht regions in the county which seem to be suffering population decreases more rapidly that other parts of the County.

“This is of no surprise to communities in this area, as they have been witnessing cut after cut in Gaeltacht regions over the past three years. Unfortunately with the cuts to Udaras na Gaeltachta budgets, and this week twelve staff in MFG being put on notice, the future of further investment in job creation and community initiatives seems extremely unlikely for the Gaeltacht region,” said Cllr Gallagher.

She has now called on local minister Dinny McGinley to “use this worrying trend to ensure that these cuts are reversed and that investment in public services and a job creation initiative becomes a priority on his agenda for the West of the County”.

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