Revitalising Rural Ireland - Empowering Communities through Social Enterprise

Revitalising Rural Ireland

Empowering Communities through Social Enterprise

Are you interested in the future of rural Ireland? Do you want to find out more about empowering your community through Social Enterprise? If yes, then don’t miss the Citizens’ Dialogue taking place in Dunhill Ecopark, Co. Waterford on Monday 13 May from 7-9pm.

Key players and experts at national and EU level are set to gather at this important public meeting to explore the potential of social enterprise in revitalising rural Ireland. The dialogue will give social enterprise stakeholders the opportunity to learn about the supports available at EU level and also promote the added benefits that this partnership has the potential to bring.

The panel will include Gerry Kiely, Head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland, Brendan Whelan, CEO of the Social Finance Foundation, Patrick Klein, Social Economy Team Leader at DG GROW, EU Commission and Janet O’Toole, Community Development Manager, Connemara West Plc. Well known journalist and broadcaster from WLR FM, Damien Tiernan will chair the event.

Klein, who will be travelling from Brussels to address the event, explains: “Today rural regions in Europe are facing considerable challenges and social enterprises can be one solution to bring positive change. The European Commission acknowledges the huge potential of Social enterprise as a growth area. However, the road to success can only be reached with appropriate policy and support measures”.

O’Toole who herself has been involved in the development of Connemara West, describes the need for “rural communities to re-imagine their futures in an increasingly connected world and give voice to their vision. The ideas must be locally generated and appropriately supported by flexible national and European programmes that build capabilities, opportunities and infrastructure in rural areas. Connemara West is an excellent case study of how public support, extended in a timely and innovate way in partnership with a local community, can have an extraordinary impact on a locality”.

There is growing momentum and interest in social enterprise at all levels. Whelan who chairs the Social Enterprise Task Force in Ireland says "the recent publication of a draft Policy on Social Enterprise in Ireland for consultation is an important development.  When finalised and adopted by Government, it will have the potential to develop the sector to its full potential.  To achieve this, the focus must now turn to implementing the policy effectively, a joint responsibility between the Department of Community and Rural Development and the social enterprise sector, working collaboratively together." 

This meeting will give the public an opportunity to provide feedback to the European Commission about the Future of Europe with a particular emphasis on revitalising rural communities. Kiely, who is looking forward to visiting Waterford added "I hope that the event will facilitate real engagement and debate on how best to ensure rural communities thrive, including through social enterprise. Everyone is welcome to attend and I look forward to making sure that participants' voices are heard in Europe”.

This event is organised by Europe Direct Waterford in partnership with The European Commission Representation in Ireland and Dunhill, Fenor, Boatstrand & Annestown (DFBA) Community Enterprises CLG and has been chosen as one of the 2019 European Social Economy Regions Pilot (ESER) partner events. It will take place in Dunhill Ecopark, which is a social enterprise established by members of the community to cultivate an entrepreneurial culture and facilitate job creation. All are welcome; you can book your free ticket via eventbrite or email On the day there will be Social Enterprise Information stands and finger food from 6pm.

The Waterford Europe Direct Information Centre, based at Central Library, Lady Lane is a service which helps the public find answers to questions about the European Union. It offers information on all sorts of subjects related to the EU including your rights and opportunities as an EU citizen. It can provide direct responses to general inquiries and, if you have more detailed questions, signpost you to the best sources of information and advice at EU, national, regional and local levels.