Community representatives from South Kerry will be trying out new ideas in the region over the coming months following a very successful visit to France last week. The South Kerry delegation was in both the Laval and Redon areas of France as part of the INTERREG Rural Alliances project which is run in the region by South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd. The key objective of the transnational meeting was to enable community representatives from all of the 12 partner areas learn from and assist each other in coming up with new approaches to common issues. Among the new ideas the South Kerry delegates are likely to focus on following the meeting areas such as creating a more inclusive role for people with disabilities and looking at alternative approaches to financing community initiatives.
Chairperson of South Kerry Development Partnership Sheila Casey, a community representative from the Greater Killarney area, said that the visit offered communities and regions such as South Kerry to develop new contacts and opportunities. “Many of the problems rural areas such as South Kerry face at present such as depopulation and lack of access to services are mirrored in the other partner areas and having the chance to look at the approaches they take to solving such problems offers us the chance to try new things in our areas” Sheila said. She added that they saw some very interesting new initiatives particularly around community transport and financing during the visit which they hope to pilot in South Kerry over the next number of months.
The issue of commonality of problems in rural areas throughout North West Europe was echoed by the Kenmare Alliance representative Maureen Sullivan who said that having the chance to build up contacts with the other partner areas through such project meetings was very beneficial for all. “This region is very similar in many ways to our area here in South Kerry and we can certainly learn a lot from working together to tackle the common issues” Maureen added.
Rural Alliances project manager in SKDP Seán de Buitlear said that the trip also offered the representatives the chance to feed back to each other the work they have been engaging in since a similar meeting took place here last year. “SKDP, in conjunction with Dr. Brendan O’Keeffe of Mary Immaculate College has also undertaken an extensive survey through this project of both community groups and individuals in the South Kerry area looking at the issue of rural vibrancy” Seán said adding that the issues arising from this work will then feed in to the development of policy papers, endorsed by all partners in the project, aimed at positively influencing future decisions at local, national and EU level in favour of rural areas. Seán concluded that they look forward to working with the communities to see the benefits of the new ideas gained from the visit being rolled out throughout the region in the coming months.