Rural crime and rural isolation remain the key issues facing communities in Ireland, according to a recent survey of Macra na Feirme members.
Up to 25 percent of members surveyed identified rural crime as the biggest issue facing communities, while for 20 percent of members it was rural isolation.
The results of the survey come as Macra na Feirme launches its biggest annual community initiative for 2018, Know Your Neighbour.
Launching the event, the Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring said: “The Know Your Neighbour campaign by Macra na Feirme is a great initiative.
“Whether you’ve lived in an area your whole life or have just moved in, getting to know your neighbours is very important.
“It binds our communities together. No telephone call or text conversation can replace physically meeting someone for a chat over a cup of tea."
In the survey, depopulation was also identified as a major concern along with access to key local services. When asked about essential rural services such as the Post Office, 45 per cent of members surveyed, admitted they only used it a couple of times a year.
Speaking at the campaign launch, Macra na Feirme National President James Healy said: "This is the 13th year of Know Your Neighbour and over that period of time, it has grown to be one of the cornerstones of what Macra na Feirme stands for.
“It’s only through a strong sense of community spirit that rural Ireland can thrive. Whether you live in a sparsely populated region or a city or town, it’s important to have a relationship with those living around you.
“Our recent survey showed that 96 per cent of Macra na Feirme respondents know who their neighbours are at the very least, which shows in my opinion that campaigns such as this one, do have an impact.”
The goal of Know Your Neighbour is to provide communities with an outlet for neighbours to get to know each other and establish a strong support network.
Every year Macra na Feirme encourages our clubs to set up a Know Your Neighbour event in their locality and encourage everyone in the region to attend.