Keep Ireland Talking

As part of our work as Community Champions throughout the country, we are supporting the Keep Ireland Talking Initiative. Together, we can reduce the feelings of loneliness that people are experiencing.

  1. Family members, neighbours and friends can all play their part by recognising that even though we have to stay apart, we can still take the time to talk to each other and this can really reduce loneliness. This can take place if we see people in their gardens or when we are out walking, over the phone and through using online technology like video calling.
  2. Local community groups can play a vital role in reaching out to the most vulnerable and isolated at this time by recognising that they can make a huge difference simply by maintaining regular contact with people who are isolated. Those who are feeling isolated and lonely may be reluctant to ask for help and thus we need to be proactive in reaching out to people and offer them a friendly chat as well as practical supports. And we need to keep doing it and maintain that connection and supportVulnerable Citizens

    Keep Ireland Talking by phoning your local Community Call Helpline. We’re available for a chat and we can put you in touch with the services you need.


    Keep Ireland Talking by reaching out to a neighbour. Smile, chat at a safe distance, make a friendly phone call or let them know your contact details.

    Community Groups

    Keep Ireland Talking by asking your members to make regular ‘comfort calls’ to vulnerable citizens by telephone or video call. Help people stay connected and get online. Be realistic about the support you can provide but conscious of your capacity to brighten someone’s day.

    Key Messages:

    Let’s Keep Ireland Talking

    T – Take the time to chat. Together, we can get through.

    A – Ask your neighbour how they’re doing.

    L – Let your neighbours have your contact details.

    K – Keep in regular contact by telephone and video call.

    I – Initiate conversations with a friendly wave or smile.

    N – Never feel alone – The Community Call Helpline is here to help you.

    G – Get Talking, it’s good for you and your community.

Attached you will find sample posters which can be adapted for your own county or even community, along with an example of a flyer developed in Co Kildare. If you require any further help or information you can contact your local Development Officer here.

Flyer-for-Keep-Kildare-Talking.jpg KEEP-COUNTY-TALKING.jpg KEEP-COUNTY-TALKING.pptx


Community Champions

As part of the Government response to COVID-19, a Community Champion has been appointed in each county. Uniquely, Muintir has four staff working as Community Champions, which gives us an insight into the issues arising around the country, and the types of actions being taken. We plan to bring you some of these examples over the coming weeks. You can find the contact details for the Champion for your county here – Community-Champions.pdf .

For issues relating uniquely to Community Alert, you can find contact details for your Development Officer here.

If you are an organisation or individual who needs support during the crisis, we strongly encourage you to reach out to your local Champion. They can help organise support for you, represent your needs on their Local Authority Fora, and feedback major issues to Government.

If you are an organisation or individual offering services or community supports during this crisis, we would also encourage you to link in with your Champion. They can help channel support to where it is most needed in communities and signpost people to your services.


National Community Engagement Day

On Friday 31st January The National Rural Safety Forum will host over 300 meet and greet events throughout Ireland. This is an opportunity for local communities to get to know their local Gardaí and community representatives. All are welcome.

The National Rural Safety Forum includes Muintir na Tíre, An Garda Síochána, and other community organisations. More details, including all venues and times, are available here.

Our crime prevention leaflet is also attached below. Posters are available below for groups to give details of local gatherings.

Crime Prevention Advice - National Rural Safety Forum


National Community Day Poster


National Community Day Poster 2



Text Alert Compensation Scheme

Muintir na Tíre has launched a new Text Compensation Scheme. This pilot scheme aims to improve the operation of Community Text Alert, in partnership between Muintir na Tíre and An Garda Síochána. Groups have occasion occasionally complained where they receive alerts they should not have received, and have to pay for these alerts. The scheme will refund the costs of such alerts to the provider, to be allocated to the group’s account.

The scheme covers messages that were issued in error (where it was not intended the group should receive the alert), or where the message was too long in error (eg the alert included extra information by mistake) and the group was thus charged more than a standard text amount. It does not include messages where the group simply do not appreciate the content of the message (eg general advice) – such content is a matter to be discussed between groups and An Garda Síochána.

Further information, and an application form, is available here.


Post Office Closure Premature

Muintir na Tíre, the National Association for Community Development, has said that the planned closure of rural post offices is premature.

Muintir na Tíre National President, Michael Sweeney said “For many years, Muintir has lobbied for improvements to the post office network, including in our recent Save Rural Ireland campaign. Since these improvements have not been fully explored, the proposed closures are premature. For most of these villages, if they lose their post office it is unlikely they will ever have a State presence again.”

CEO, Niall Garvey added, “in 2015 we were part of the Bobby Kerr review of the post office network. This review concluded that many smaller offices are not commercially viable but they serve a vital social role. It was agreed this social capital should be recognised and funded separately to An Post, if necessary.”

“In many communities, the post office is the last remaining community hub and it was agreed this role could be expanded – beyond the current core post office business and to include many other state services and facilities. There was agreement that this would be explored on a pilot basis. Therefore it is premature to close post offices before the structure of the overall network is reviewed.”

“We realise that not one size fits all, but we believe with some time and effort that these vital services can be saved. In some cases the existing services can be co-located with another premises in the area. Several of the communities currently slated for post office closure have already identified existing shops willing to take on the services. In other cases an expanded offering, through a community hub, would work.”

“This review would take a little time, and it is disappointing so little has happened since 2015. However, it must be given this time and priority. An Post is profitable again so this is not an emergency, but in fairness, they must know what their future mandate and funding is to be also. In the interim though, the current redundancy process is not fair. Every postmaster or postmistress involved is self-employed and rightly has to consider his or her own livelihood. However, pitting them against the very communities that they have served, and that have supported them, is wrong and is causing tension.”

“We have often used the “use it or lose” mantra ourselves, but in the case of small post offices, it is not working. This is because the demand for existing services is declining. The solution though is not to remove them, but to expand them.”


Rural Transport Extension Welcome

Muintir na Tíre, the National Association for Community Development, has issued a broad welcome for the new pilot rural transport programme extension.

Muintir na Tíre National President, Michael Sweeney said “For many years, Muintir has lobbied for improved local transport. In our recent Save Rural Ireland campaign, the lack of public transport was identified as a clear structural deficit in rural Ireland. We therefore welcome the new pilot scheme. We hope it will produce positive findings, and lead to an extended and improved scheme.”

CEO, Niall Garvey added, “Without adequate public transport, people in rural Ireland cannot travel to access services. This is vital when those services are being withdrawn from their own communities. This deficit also leads to social isolation, particularly for those who do not have access to private transport or affordable public transport. The elderly, and those on limited income, are particularly hard hit.”

“The new pilot programme will help greatly with the social isolation element, as it operates at weekend evenings. Serving pubs is part of the service, but it is not the entirity. These new services can be used by people who wish to attend an event, eat a meal, or simply socialise with friends.”
“By its nature, a pilot programme is small and is not sufficient to address the problem fully. However, we hope the results will be assessed positively and will lead to a full roll-out next year.”

“It is important that people use this service where it is available. It is also important it be made available in other areas. There are several counties that did not apply for the scheme, for whatever reasons. However, the Minister has indicated he remains open to further applications in the coming days so we hope these counties will apply. It will be important to have a spread of services around the country when the pilot is being assessed.”


Grapevine Text Alert

Muintir na Tíre is pleased to announce it will continue the excellent text alert service provided by Grapevine Communications for many years.
Muintir na Tíre operates the Community Alert Programme in partnership with An Garda Síochána. At the Ploughing Championships in 2013 they officially launched the Text Alert Programme which has been phenomenally successful, with over 1,000 groups now registered nationally and the programme being credited with significantly reducing crime.

Grapevine are the largest provider of texting services under this programme. Richard Butler, founder and owner, said “we have been involved in text alert since the very beginning, even before the formal programme was introduced. We prided ourselves on advising and guiding groups as they took on the service.”

Richard continued “the programme has grown so large now, we feel it is time to pass it on to somebody who has the resources to develop it further, but who can continue our ethos of looking after groups. Muintir na Tíre have worked with community groups for 80 years and are at the heart of Community Alert. We are delighted they have agreed to continue our work.”

Michael Sweeney, National President of Muintir, commented “we are grateful to Grapevine for the service they have provided over the years. Their support was vital to the early success of Community Text Alert.”

Niall Garvey, CEO of Muintir, added “we did not seek to get involved directly as a text provider, but when requested by Grapevine we are happy to do so, and to bring some greater stability to this market. I can assure existing Grapevine customers they will have a seamless transfer and we will forward them details of this over the coming weeks. While it will initially be business as usual, these groups will also be able to avail of exciting future developments, such as our new Cairde mobile app.”

Niall added “this service will be provided by a separate Muintir entity so that it is distinct from the main work of Muintir. This will ensure that any Community Alert group that uses another provider will continue to get the same independent support and advice from us as they always have. We remain committed to the quality and growth of Community Alert”


AGM 2017

Community CCTV and the new app, CÁIRDE, will be among the items up for discussion at this year’s AGM of Muintir na Tire, which is being held as part of a wider event that will be open to the public. It will be held in Ballacolla Community Centre, Co. Laois, on Saturday, September 9, at 12:30pm.

“The event will be practical and informative, and should appeal greatly to all community groups, particularly rural ones,” said Niall Garvey, Muintir na Tire CEO.

There will be a panel on the issues facing communities and their solutions. Legendary Kerry footballer, TV analyst, and Ambassador for the Action Plan for Rural Development Pat Spillane, and Minister Sean Kyne, who has responsibility for rural affairs, will be part of the panel. “The discussion is expected to be frank and forthright,” said Garvey.

There will also be a focus on community CCTV. “This is very topical right now, especially with the recent announcement of €3 million in grant aid available, but many groups do not know where to start.
“Our panel will have representatives from An Garda Síochána; a local authority; and a community group that made the journey. This will provide a great starting point for any interested group,” said Garvey.

“We will also have a number of exhibitors, including Muintir community councils and Community Alert groups demonstrating how they have successfully completed their own projects. Several CCTV suppliers will also be exhibiting, as will other service providers, including Pobal, which will provide information on the Seniors Alert Scheme – pendant alarms,” said the CEO.

“Muintir na Tire will also be previewing our new app: CÁIRDE, before its formal launch later this month. It is the new Muintir na Tíre service designed to connect, secure and empower communities. It works on the principles that there is safety in numbers, and people want to help each other.
“It connects local people, family, friends and neighbours so they can provide help and assistance to each other in times of need,” said Garvey.

“We are very grateful to Community Finance Ireland for their support in this event. All in all, there will be something here for anybody with an interest in community matters”, summarised Muintir National President, Michael Sweeney.

Ballacolla is just off exit 3 on the M8. More information is available at


Action Plan for Rural Development

Muintir na Tíre, the National Association for Community Development, has greeted the new Government Action Plan for Rural Development with a cautious welcome. The plan has been launched through a 70-page document, with 276 actions listed.

Muintir na Tíre CEO, Niall Garvey said “We have been lobbying for many years on the need for a comprehensive Government policy for Rural Ireland. This has included our Save Rural Ireland campaign in partnership with other national bodies, and our call for a full Government ministry for rural affairs.”

“We therefore welcome the issuing of this comprehensive action plan. It still does not include an overall policy – we envisaged this including a vision of future Rural Ireland – what it would be like to live and work in, what essential services would be required for this, and what baseline commitment would be given on the provision of these services.”

“Neither has the commitment given to “rural proofing” in last year’s Rural Charter been continued. This was to be a mandatory system of assessment of Government policies, to ensure all future Government policies were designed with full and stated consideration of their impact on Rural Ireland. The previous Government also had committed to review all current, relevant, national policy frameworks in the same context, with a view to their amendment if necessary.”

“On the positive side, though, the Action Plan builds on the previous CEDRA (Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas) report. It goes further, recognising that economic development is essential, but that social and cultural development are also vital components for communities.”

Muintir na Tíre President, Paddy Byrne, said “We look forward to working with the Minister and other stakeholders in helping to implement many of these actions, particularly in the pillars of Supporting Sustainable Communities, and Improving Rural Infrastructure and Connectivity. This is what we do – enable communities.”

“Many of the actions are areas we are already involved in such as the Text Alert scheme and Seniors Alert (socially monitored alarms for the elderly), but we already receiving calls from our 1,000+ groups looking for information on many of the other actions.”

“Of course, many of the actions listed are already in place, or have previously been announced, but there are plenty of new actions and having them all together in one reference document is essential – it will now be easy to monitor their implementation or otherwise.”

Niall Garvey added “This Action Plan must be a living document. There is a commitment to a six-monthly review process and this must happen – with significant, measurable, outputs in each period. We have had worthwhile reports before, particularly the CEDRA report, but the pace of implementation was very slow. Our member organisations are generally progressive, and will support any action in a positive way but they are giving us a very clear message – it is now time for action. We look forward to it.”


Garda Action – What To Do?

Muintir na Tíre, the National Association for Community Development, has welcomed the decision of the GRA to provide skeletal policing tomorrow but says it will do little to change the concerns of rural communities.

Muintir CEO, Niall Garvey, said “Muintir na Tíre has operated Community Alert in partnership with An Garda Síochána for over 30 years. It has been to the forefront in preventing crime in rural areas. In the last three years, the Text Alert programme has been rolled out to over 1,000 groups and has been very effective in preventing and solving crime”.

“This deterrent will not operate effectively on Friday in the absence of adequate Garda support. The units which it is proposed will operate are vital to the security of the State and we welcome that. However, the absence of local Gardaí to respond is a serious concern to our members. They are particularly worried about potential burglary and other attacks on their property. The Emergency Response Unit or Regional Support Units will not be able to provide adequate cover for rural and isolated areas.”

He said “We are urging the 1,400 Community Alert Groups we support to remember the original principles of Community Alert and to look after their neighbours. We suggest they be active, be alert, and be careful. Activity discourages crime so we ask people to be out and about and watch for suspicious activity. We ask that people be particularly aware of vulnerable or isolated neighbours and to call on them if possible, particularly when darkness falls. Activity, cars, and lights are all effective deterrents.”

“We also remind people to be cautious and not to put themselves in harm’s way. We are all hopeful the issues can be resolved or progressed even at this late stage, and we know all parties are eager to do so. Hopefully the proposed action can be cancelled, or at least postponed.”


Oireachtas Committee

Muintir na Tíre, the National Association for Community Development, yesterday met the Oireachtas Joint Committee for Justice. The organisation was invited by the Committee to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of Community Alert and to outline its thoughts on rural crime.

In his opening statement, CEO Niall Garvey explained that Muintir has run the Community Alert programme, in partnership with the Garda Síochána, for 30 years. It has been very successful and has been proven to reduce crime in areas where it is implemented properly and makes full use of initiatives such as Text Alert. He told the committee there are over 1,400 Community Alert groups nationwide and over half of these have implemented the Text Alert programme in the last two years with over 300,000 texts now being sent each month.

Diarmuid Cronin, Community Alert Development Officer gave a case study of the West Cork Division, one of the largest Garda divisions in the country and which has a very active Community Alert programme. That entire division has less than half the number of burglaries of Mallow alone.

Addressing the issue of resources, Mr Garvey welcomed the recent announcement of Project Thor but outlined how reallocating a relatively small amount of resources to preventative community based measures can achieve much greater results. An active Community Alert group can have several hundred people assisting in crime prevention at a very low cost. However he pointed out that these groups currently bear all the costs themselves – signage, insurance, text costs and so on, and even pay VAT on top of that.

Paddy Byrne, National President of Muintir, pointed out a number of initiatives the organisation was proposing in its detailed submission. These included restrictions on bail and free legal aid for repeat offenders, with such legal aid becoming a repayable loan. The organisation also proposed a number of non-custodial deterrents such as electronic tagging, curfews, restrictions of driving licenses, seizure of property used in committing crimes and so on.

Niall Garvey also proposed the formation of special purpose committee to examine rural crime. This committee would have a limited time and budget but would be tasked with reviewing practical solutions such as those being put forward by Muintir na Tíre. Senator Katherine Zappone suggested the Justice Committee should support that recommendation.

In concluding, Deputy David Stanton, the Committee Chairman, thanked the organisation for their detailed and well considered recommendations, and for their support of Community Alert over the last 30 years.


Irish National Flood Forum Conference

Gullane’s Hotel, Ballinasloe, Co Galway – Saturday 15 October 2016

Does your community have issues with flooding or flood insurance? If so you may be interested in the conference being hosted by the Irish National Flood Forum – our partners in Save Rural Ireland. This is a free event and members of the public are welcome.

See the time-table and conference information.


Operation ID

Last Saturday, Muintir na Tíre launched Operation ID to a packed hall in Schull, Co Cork. Operation ID is a crime prevention programme using property marking to reduce theft and facilitate recovery of stolen property. Paddy Byrne, National President of Muintir na Tíre launched the pilot project in conjunction with three local Community Councils – Schull, Ballydehob and Goleen.

He said “Muintir na Tíre has long been associated with community development and is well known for the operation of the Community Alert and Text Alert programmes. It is wonderful to see three of our groups come together to launch another innovative programme which will improve the quality of life on the Mizen peninsula and ultimately all over Ireland.”

Chie Superintendent Tom Hayes outlined the Garda support for all new crime prevention programmes and that the Gardaí looked forward to working with the communities on this one. He added “Time and again these communities identify solutions to their own issues”.

Niall Garvey, CEO of Muintir na Tíre, outlined how the programme would operate in some detail. He said “This programme is different to anything else out there in that it is Community led and this is what will ensure its success”. He explained how communities would deliver the programme through existing structures and that “this will ensure that entire areas have their property marked and will have signage to this effect. This will give notice to would-be criminals that it is not worth operating in that area”.

He added this would be done at nominal cost to the communities and that “the equipment we are using is state of the art engraving equipment widely used by UK Police forces. It provides discrete but professional marking in seconds”.

He continued “We believe this will greatly reduce the numbers of items being stolen, but if items are stolen and then recovered, they can be easily returned to their rightful owners. This is done through a national database recording the owner details. The item will be marked with the owner’s Eircode – possibly the best use yet of the new system – but the database will have further contact details. The database can also be used for subsequent changes of ownership, checking if items are stolen and so on.”

There then followed a demonstration of the marking equipment from the suppliers, showing how all common items – bicycles, garden equipment, sports equipment, computer equipment and so on – could be easily and effectively marked.

In concluding Paddy Byrne, thanked everybody for their involvement in getting to this stage – the local Community Councils and An Garda Síochána. He said Muintir na Tíre continues to enable communities throughout Ireland, including such recent initiatives as Save Rural Ireland. We look forward to Operation ID improving the quality of life for all communities.


Floods, the good and the bad

Muintir na Tíre, the National Association for Community Development, has commended the work carried out by Community groups in the recent flooding crisis. National President, Paddy Byrne, said “much recognition has been given to the work carried out by Emergency Services, and rightly so, as they have often gone beyond the call of duty. However the work carried out by Community Councils, Community Alert Groups and other voluntary community groups should also be recognised.”

He continued “these groups provided manpower, day and night, to protect their neighbours, particularly the elderly and the vulnerable. They stacked sandbags, manned pumps, and delivered emergency supplies. This prevented much more damage to life and property.”

“Muintir na Tíre Community Councils are well known for their community initiatives such as running community centres, community crèches and other facilities and providing much needed services such as Meals on Wheels, youth services, and many others. However it is when the chips are down in a community that they really come to the fore.”

CEO, Niall Garvey also added that Muintir na Tíre has been raising flooding issues for some time now and seeking solutions before the current crisis. He said “early in 2015, Muintir na Tíre launched the Save Rural Ireland initiative, in partnership with several other national bodies.”

“One of the first common issues identified by the bodies was that of flooding and its impact on communities. In particular Save Rural Ireland identified the difficulties with insurance cover as being of primary importance to communities. We highlighted the anomaly that the state has spent over €500 million on flood relief works to date producing very successful engineering solutions, yet people are still being refused flood insurance in areas where the problem has been solved.”

“We made a number of recommendations to Government, including that the Memorandum of Understanding with the insurance industry be amended to guarantee insurance cover for homes and businesses in areas where flood prevention measures have been completed by the OPW.”

“Unfortunately it is now too late for some, but we still hope this will be implemented urgently so that people can continue to live in their homes and businesses can continue to operate. Otherwise communities with any history, or even slight future risk, of flooding, face extinction.”

Save our Rural Shops, By Paddy Byrne, President of Muinti

Recently, renowned chef, food writer and TV personality Darina Allen highlighted the need to Save Our Small Shops. Which essentially is about saving the very fibre of every local economy, on a national scale.

Muintir na Tire, along with a number of national bodies, came together earlier this year to launch their Save Rural Ireland campaign. It’s a campaign that aims to improve the existing standard of life in rural Ireland. But, crucially, it’s a campaign that ultimately spreads to all urban areas also.

The significance and the mere symbol that the small shop represents in this country cannot be overstated. And we are grateful to somebody as well-known and regarded as Darina Allen for highlighting this.

We will campaign, lobby and exercise every means possible to protect and better the life of people in rural Ireland. What happens in rural Ireland economically has a knock-on effect socially and we wish to highlight too that retrospectively this has an impact on urban areas.

The simple example of the small shop that Darina Allen referred to is not just about one stand-alone building employing one or two people. It’s about a long list of local suppliers whose livelihoods can depend on a few or maybe just one shop. It’s also about the social connection, adding vibrancy to an area, and basically securing the viability of every community.

The Local Multiplier Effect is long established and recognised and means that every €1 spent locally circulates approximately five times and so is worth €5 to the community. Of course local shops must recognise consumers are under increasing price pressure and must ensure they have competitive offerings. Where they do, the consumer should remember that there is no point in complaining in a few years that there is nowhere local to buy an emergency pint of milk if they never supported the local shop before.

Population trends of course are a factor in the social and economic changes of the country. The number of people living in rural Ireland now makes up 38% of the total population. Five decades ago this figure was 54%, and percentage is dropping at a rate of 1% every two to three years.

The power of the people is what will decide the future of every village and town. Bringing all those networks of people together through community councils, community alert groups and the many bodies and associations that Muintir na Tire serves as the umbrella body for are among our most powerful tools to mend and improve our state.

And the power of the masses will dictate to an extent any policy change at government level.


FLOOD INSURANCE ‘It works in Europe who not in Ireland’?

CFRAMS has identified 300 communities (AFAs) threatened by flooding. CFRAMS is crucial to the medium and long term reduction/management of flood risk in Ireland.
. OPW has spent €325m since 1995 to date on flood relief and €225m will be spent
over the next 5 years.
. The OPW has mapped 7000km of river courses in Ireland.
. This mapping has a suite of 13 overlay maps for each community at risk which
outline how many homes/businesses could be at risk ,what depth and the extent
flooding can occur over a range of varied flood events.
. The mapping also includes areas that have been effected by coastal flooding.
. The reason for this mapping is three fold
1.To comply with EU directives.
2.To help plan for and alleviate flooding in communities.
3.To highlight areas which should not be built on or developed.


On the 16/10/’14 a meeting was held in Dublin Castle where the OPW outlined their work to date. The forum has outlined its long standing belief that the government must intervene and stop insurance companies ‘cherry picking’ when it comes to insurance cover. The forum wishes to put the following argument to government:
. Adverse selection (cherry picking) is illegal in many countries in Europe.
. All households/businesses in France and many other countries in Europe must
legally hold insurance and flood cover is automatically included. This has led to a
very broad insurance base where ALL communities have flood cover.
. The crude methodology used by insurance companies has led to many businesses
and householders losing their insurance and therefore becoming worthless .What
will the future hold for these communities? These property owners are still paying
full rates and property tax which is a wholly inequitable situation and unsustainable
going forward.
. Without flood insurance these communities will not be able to invest in their
properties or attract inward investment to these areas .Without insurance these
communities will become the slums of tomorrow.
. What will become of elderly people who have spent a life time paying off their
mortgages ? Will they become more dependant on the state? Will they become the
new poor? With their single biggest asset becoming worthless because they can’t
get flood cover and therefore banks will not grant mortgages to perspective new
. What will become of the SME’s and their employees in the cities ,towns and
villages who can’t get flood cover? Loss of jobs and no inward investment ,
even closure and loss of rates.
. The OPW has made communities like Fermoy, Clonmel etc. much safer and has
invested millions of tax payer monies in building magnificent engineering solutions
to prevent flooding in these areas ,yet insurance companies are still refusing flood
cover. This is a wreckless and anti community stance by insurance companies.
. The Minister for Finance has the power to refuse these insurance companies
a licence to trade in this country and we would ask that he uses his powers to put
an end to this intolerable situation where insurance companies won’t comply.
. There are many other clever solutions that have been introduced in areas where
people haven’t been able to get reasonable insurance e.g. Health Insurance for the
elderly through community rating and the national insurance scheme should
someone be hit by an uninsured driver.