The lack of a rural broadband strategy could cause a two-tier digital divide developing, according to a new report from Social Justice Ireland.

It says that a rural broadband strategy should be developed and implemented as a matter of priority to help prevent a two-tier digital divided developing.

“You can’t solve social housing overnight or put in rural broadband overnight, but unless steps are being taking people loose faith,” according to Sean Healy, Director, Social Justice Ireland.

The National Social Monitor report from Social Justice Ireland, states that Ireland needs to move from agricultural development to supporting costal communities and to support small, local, sustainable and indigenous enterprise, farming and fishing.

It says that the areas highlighted as possible drivers of rural job creation are based around small businesses. It says social enterprise and social services, tourism, ‘green’ productions and services and cultural and creative industries will be key.

Rural development and the challenges facing rural areas in terms of generating sustainable employment are either absent or barely referenced in the key national policies, it says.

The report goes on to say that national policies on employment and enterprise should have a rural specific element designed to support local enterprises and rural-specific jobs.

The economies of rural ares have become increasingly dependent on welfare transfers with the ‘at risk of poverty’ rate in rural areas 4.5% higher than that of urban areas, Michelle Murphy, Research and Policy Analyst, Social Justice Ireland, said. Small- and medium-sized towns have seen unemployment increase by 193% during the recession.