Midlands North West MEP, Matt Carthy, has addressed a hearing in the European Parliament on Galway 2020 and the potential of the Capital of Culture status to drive rural development in the West of Ireland.
Speaking after the event, Carthy said:
“Galway’s successful bid for the European Capital of Culture 2020 is a remarkable achievement which strengthens Galway’s position as a must-see cultural destination in Europe.
“At the hearing in the European Parliament, I communicated the structural significance of Galway and the importance of using culture as a tool for regional development.
“In my work as a member of the Transport and Tourism Committee, I am aware of the difficulties in encouraging tourism to peripheral regions. However, Galway has established itself as a city spilling over with Irish arts, language, education and heritage.
“Surrounding Galway City lies a diverse rural hinterland which adds to its cultural composition. Galway is an urban centre where the Irish language is alive and spoken on the street, due in part to the proximity of nearby rural Gaeltacht communities. The prominence of the Irish language is yet another factor pulling tourists towards the West of Ireland.
“Our rural communities are the backbone of Irish culture. The policies of successive Irish governments, of continually failing to prioritise and constantly under-funding rural development, strips Ireland of its culture. Regressive policies place rural communities and their societal norms under threat.
“When austerity policies dismantle the resources of rural Ireland, by reducing services such as post offices, Garda services and education access, they in turn deplete our culture and lead to greater regional imbalances.
“Ireland’s indigenous culture – our language, music and sport – reaps economic benefits and drives tourism. By protecting Ireland’s rural communities, we are protecting Irish culture.
Ireland must follow the example of other European regions by promoting and safeguarding our native culture, so Ireland can thrive as a bilingual and diverse nation, rather than a monolingual, urban-oriented nation culturally depleted by a relentless austerity regime.
“I welcome the positive campaign of Galway 2020, which establishes Galway as an cultural capital on a European level; however Ireland must be more creative in its strategic approach towards promoting and sustaining its culture, tourism and heritage’ the Sinn Féin representative concluded.