People shouldn’t be pressured to travel to or live in the city if they prefer rural life, the CEO of Supermacs has said.
“Delivering for rural Ireland” is one of the key issues being discussed at a special Fine Gael conference this weekend as they will discuss the opportunities and challenges the agricultural sector faces.
Speaking about rural Ireland as a whole, Supermacs CEO Pat McDonagh said “everything” in Ireland is “city-concentrated”.
“Everything is centralised there, and it's causing serious social, economic and infrastructural issues,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
“People are going to work earlier and earlier, from 5am, and they spend at least two hours driving from some parts of the country to Dublin – for the most part – and then two hours home again.
“That’s 20 hours a week – that is valuable family time.
“Meanwhile, where people have to buy a house in the city, they don’t really know their neighbours and they have no kind of local infrastructure.”
Incentives for rural business
Mr McDonagh said there should be “incentives” for businesses to open and people to work in rural Ireland.
“People working from home can easily locate wherever they want,” he said.
'People should decide where they live'
Mr McDonagh agreed town development, saying it is factories in towns like Athenry allow people to build their homes where they want, rather than based on where jobs are.
Overall, however, he said people "should be left to decide themselves where they live".
“Whether it’s in villages, whether it’s in the country areas, whether it's in farms, people should have a decision," he said.
“They shouldn't be forced to make the decision of where they want to live because work demands it.”
A survey published in August found median house prices on the rural commuter belt to Dublin are becoming more expensive than Dublin itself.
Property District CEO Carol Tallon said this price increase is because Irish people have a desire for rural life.