Rural Ireland is "alive and kicking", Minister for Rural Community and Development Heather Humphreys told the Irish Rural Link conference on Friday.

Irish Rural Link celebrated its 30th anniversary in the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone on Friday 6 April.

Minister Humphreys said that Irish Rural Link is a non-profit organisation which represents over 600 community groups with a combined membership of 25,000.

The overall aim of Irish Rural Link is to help support viable communities in rural Ireland, where every person has meaningful work, adequate income and social services.

Minister Humphreys said that remote working as a result of COVID-19 has seen younger people move back to their rural communities.

She said her Department is on course to meet the target of 400 remote working hubs in rural communities.

Derelict buildings

Minister Humphreys said that the issue of derelict buildings in towns and villages would be solved if young people came back to live at home.

"Bringing people into our towns will revitalise rural communities," she said.

"Hope, confidence and ambition" were the words she used to describe the future of rural Ireland.

"When we educate our young people, we want them back in rural communities.

"For too long, we said goodbye to them," she concluded.