Monthly newsletter of the National Rural Network - April 2016
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Connecting Communities

growing our future 

April 2016

Welcome to the second issue of the NRN's monthly newsletter. The goal of the National Rural Network (NRN) 2016-2020 is to inform the broader public and potential beneficiaries about rural development policy and funding opportunities. In this issue we explore a number of key issues for rural communities. For more see
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Deadline extended to complete certain GLAS Actions 

Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS)

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has announced that the deadline for completion of the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) actions “Protection of Watercourses from Bovines” and “Riparian Margins” has been extended from the 31 March 2016 to 31 July 2016 in light of the exceptionally wet winter.

The Minister acknowledges the challenges faced by farmers due to the exceptional weather conditions and recognised the need to allow them sufficient time to meet the conditions of the GLAS Scheme. He added “I am conscious of the work which farmers must undertake to fulfill these actions. I hope that this extra time will be of assistance to them in the completion of these important tasks and allow them to carry out the necessary work at a time when their land has recovered from the wet winter we have experienced this year.”

For more information on the GLAS Scheme visit

GLAS Scheme an "enormous success"

 Agri-environment & Climate Change

In an address to a public meeting of farmers and rural dwellers in Westport Co. Mayo on 5 April 2016 agricultural consultant Philip Farrelly (representing the NRN) pointed to the enormous success already achieved by the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) scheme. 

Mr Farrelly stated that based on current figures it appears that up to 37,000 farm holdings would be admitted into the scheme between tranche I and tranche II with the prospect of a further 15,000 being admitted in a further intake either later this year or next year. 

He pointed out that the principal aims of GLAS were to improve on-farm performance in relation to:

  • climate change;
  • water quality; and
  • biodiversity.

Commenting on the high investment which the Rural Development Programme (RDP) makes through GLAS he pointed out that environmental issues such as rising seas, drought, food security, extreme weather events and the concerns of the general public were the reasons why farmers and rural dwellers should care about climate change. 

He went on to identify the principal causes of greenhouse gases and demonstrated how - because of Ireland’s low historical industrial base - agriculture plays a disproportionately large part in Ireland’s total greenhouse gas production when compared to other European countries. 

Philip pointed out that both EU and UN greenhouse gas commitments going forward would be very stringent and pointed to the necessity for real changes in attitude – both to comply with the requirements of our international commitments and, more importantly, as a sensible response to problems facing the world and declines in hydrocarbons which could be put to much better use than simply burning them for power or transport.

Pointing to future solutions he suggested that science was only in its infancy in relation to tackling the issue of methane production from agriculture. He speculated that perhaps Ireland Inc. should look at the transport sector and become a world leader in adoption of electric cars powered by wind and sun generated electricity. 

For more information on the GLAS scheme visit

The role of LEADER/CCLD and networking in supporting social inclusion in rural areas

Knowledge Transfer Programme

On St. Patrick's Day, the NRN's Project Director Seamus Boland presented at a European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) workshop in Brussels on the role of LEADER/Community Led Local Development (CCLD) and networking in supporting social inclusion in rural areas.

Speaking at the workshop, Mr. Boland said the Rural Development Programme (RDP) is an important tool in the fight against rural poverty, and there is considerable evidence to show that rural poverty, which is inherently part of the overall poverty situation in Europe, is stubbornly resisting measures to tackle it.

"Tackling rural deprivation has proven to be difficult. Many of the proposed solutions involve more spending and most governments baulk at the idea of spending large amounts of taxpayer’s money on infrastructure that may never make the return deemed necessary. Specific social inclusion spending is often prioritised for the larger urban settlements where poverty and social inclusion are much more visible and will have higher density of population. Funding that could create employment and maintain a higher retention of families in rural areas is also hampered by a strong economic, social and planning bias, which effectively makes it easier for enterprises to start up in urban areas," said Mr Boland. 

For more information visit or email

Research casts new light on intergenerational family farm transfer

Knowledge Transfer Programme

Intergenerational family farm transfer is a complex and highly topical issue that is increasingly seen as crucial to the survival, continuity and future prosperity of the traditional family farm and broader sustainability of rural communities.  

A new paper published in the Journal of Rural Studies by Shane Conway, Dr. Maura Farrell and Dr. John McDonagh, NUIG and Anne Kinsella (Teagasc) concludes that any new initiatives put in place to support and encourage family farm transfer must be accompanied by a comprehensive set of interventions to deal with the personal and social loss an older farmer may experience upon transferring the family farm. The development of such strategies addressing the emotional well-being of elderly farmers have the potential to greatly ease the stresses of the process.

The findings are based on a randomly selected sample of 324 farmers over the age of 55 in attendance at a series of ‘Transferring the Family Farm’ clinics delivered by Teagasc at 11 different locations throughout the country from September to October 2014. Interviews were then conducted with a 10% sample of the 194 questionnaire respondents who gave their consent to be interviewed.

The full paper is available from Science Direct

Applications now open for Basic Payment and Greening Schemes

RDP Funding 

Applications for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and the Greening Scheme is now being accepted via the iNet online application facility.

Announcing the opening of applications, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD said: "In 2015, some 93,000 farmers applied online and we are hoping to significantly increase that number this year given the range of benefits which online applications provide for farmers.”

The Minister confirmed that the closing date for the BPS in 2016 is Monday 16 May but he urged all farmers and advisers to avail of the opening of the online facility now rather than waiting until closer to the closing date.

Following on from the roll out in 2015 of online application to farmers who have a requirement under Greening, or are in partnerships, or are in the Organic Farming Scheme, in 2016 GLAS farmers will move to online BPS application. Greater use of the online application system will allow the Department to deliver a range of benefits to farmers in terms of the accuracy and efficiency with which BPS applications are processed.  In particular, built-in validations on the system will help to ensure consistency between GLAS and BPS applications for farmers.

Assistance is available to all farmers using the online application system via and the dedicated Helpdesk at Tel: 076-1064424.

For more information on RDP funding opportunities visit

Spotlight on Local Development Structures

Local and Community Development

In recent weeks, Dr Maura Farrell (NUI Galway) introduced the National Rural Network (NRN) at two information sessions organised by the Local and Community Development Committees (LCDC) Support Section of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. These events, which were held in Dublin and Limerick, presented excellent opportunities to learn more about the new structures underpinning local development.

Representatives from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG), and from Local Authorities provided detailed information and answered questions on the following: the role and operation of the new Local Community Development Committees (LCDC); the format and purpose of Local Economic and Community Plans (LECP); the function of Public Participation Networks (PPN); an outline of the new Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP); the format of the new LEADER Rural Development Programme 2014-2020; the role of LAGS and information regarding the newly appointed National Rural Network (NRN). For more information on the roles of these organisations, committees and programmes, follow these links:

Best Practice


Digital Clare is a network of people from all over Clare who live, work, or do business in the county, or are involved in local community and voluntary organisations. The aim of the network is to enable Clare businesses and communities to connect through social media.

The idea developed from a county-wide social media training suite in 2014. A closed Facebook group was initially set up to support those who had been trained and provide technical assistance and troubleshooting. What emerged from that group was a vibrant and productive business network which resulted in the establishment of the #DigitalClare network (launched in January 2015). Following the launch, additional social media training was provided for six months. This round of training was funded through the LEADER initiative. 

#DigitalClare is available on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. There are currently over 500 businesses and communities active on #DigitalClare and it continues to grow from strength to strength.

For more case studies visit

Forthcoming Events

Whitaker Institute Research Day - 13 April 2016 
Dr. Maura Farrell, NUIG and Lead Researcher for the NRN will be speaking during a session entitled "Sustainable and Inclusive Societies". Maura will provide a presentation entitled; “Irish National Rural Network: Supporting Rural Development”, which will explore the sustainable and inclusive aspects of the current Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2016-2020 and how the National Rural Network can enhance the overall delivery of the RDP.
Venue:  Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway
View conference outline

Irish Rural Link National Conference - 6 May 2016

Environmental Issues – A Threat or an Opportunity for Rural Communities?
Venue:  Grand Hotel, Moate. Co. Westmeath

Resourcing Upland Communities - 26 & 27th May 2016  

A two-day Upland Community Partnership event organised by the Irish Uplands Forum. Download the full programme details here (PDF).
Venue: The Dunloe, Beaufort, Killarney, Co. Kerry

SAVE THE DATE: NRN Annual Conference - 14 October 2016, Croke Park

For more events visit

Meet the NRN Team

The National Rural Network (NRN) Consortium Coordination Group (from left to right): Michael Kenny, Seamus Boland (Project Director), James Claffey, Billy Murphy, Deirdre Garvey, Philip Farrelly and Maria Pettit and (not pictured) Dr. Maura Farrell & Maria O’Gorman. For more information visit


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