Desmond Kee says he has concerns for how rural Ireland is being left behind
A prominent businessman has said that rural Ireland is being neglected and facing further decline.
Desmond Kee who owns the large Spar supermarket, filling station and garden centre at Laghey, said that he is dealing with people everyday and he can see the demise of rural Ireland on a first-hand basis.
He said: “I know I am only repeating what many have said, but I am here at the coal face and I witness it every day.”
His greatest concern is for those who are older and who live in the community.
He feels that many may not have the means to travel into bigger towns to utilise services that may not be available in their own local area.
“It really hits the older people in the community who may not have the facility or indeed the ability to get into a larger town,” he said.
The shop in Laghey offers the community many services that facilitates their daily needs, among them an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) and people are able to withdraw money as and when they need it, a vital service in some rural areas where people may not have the ability of going further afield.
The shop also offers a postal service which gives their customers the opportunity of getting postal business done at the Laghey-based shop.
“A number of years ago we were faced with the closure of the post office, something that is very topical today and I eventually took it on here in the shop.
“It may be a limited service but at least we can offer the community the basics. Likewise with this new 24/7 ATM that we have installed this will at least allow people to access their own money whenever they need it.”
The respected businessman said that some people who make the trip to their local shop may be experiencing their only human contact for the duration of the day.
Some people who live alone look forward to their trip to the shop where they can talk and converse about local events with people they know and recognise. The importance of this daily outing for some people cannot be underestimated.
Mr Kee said that there is a very vibrant community in Laghey but that people in other areas may feel isolated and alone.
However, it is those in more rural areas who can feel totally isolated and may not meet or speak to someone for some periods of time should they not venture out to the post office or to the shop, he added.
Mr Kee said: “Coming to the shop to use the post office or to shop might be their only social contact of the day.”