The pioneering initiatives of Father Harry Bohan aim to harness the social, cultural and spiritual strengths of communities.
For almost thirty years Fr Harry Bohan has been a critic of State policies that put profit before people. He is convinced that the only way forward is to invest in local resources and skills.
This country badly needs a sense of purpose. I think we have lost our way.
Fr Harry Bohan is based in the town hall in Shannon County Clare, Ireland's first new town which was constructed around the duty free Shannon Free Zone industrial estate in the 1960s.
He was appointed to Shannon in 1968 following postgraduate studies where he had examined the impact of industrialisation on towns and cities in Britain. It was clear that the Irish government's preferred approach of placing people into high-density housing with a dependence on multinationals to provide employment was not of benefit to them.
Adopting a bottom-up model which puts people at the centre, instead of a top-down approach favoured by politicians, he began the Rural Housing Organisation (RHO), a housing co-operative in his native Feakle. The aim was to build affordable homes for twenty families, revitalising not only the village and the surrounding areas.
In 1982 the RHO became the Rural Resource Organisation, reflecting a broad based commitment to developing all aspects of community life. Fr. Harry Bohan believes a balance of age groups is important in a community,and is of particular benefit to children,
To grow up in an environment where they can listen...to the wisdom of their grandparents.
This model of community development creates jobs, healthcare services and education, and takes away dependency on the state and encourages people to work with one another and for one another.
When communities are fractured...huge numbers of individuals and groupings fall by the wayside.
Travellers are one such group excluded from the current economic system, as are the unemployed, small fishermen, small farmers and women. Every single person in society must be included because,
Community that concentrates on a few is not community.
It is no surprise that crime is present in areas where people are disillusioned and feel that they are deprived of work and education opportunities,
That is a hugely oppressive system...we cannot continue with it.
One source of inspiration for The Rural Resource Organisation is Irish society from many centuries ago, where a blend of spirituality and economics achieved highs levels of harmony, such as the monastery at Quin Abbey near Ennis,
We need spiritual sustenance, and we have to be reconnected with places like this as well as the creation that's all around us.
'Radharc : Christian Campaigners : A Place In The Country' was broadcast on 28 April 1996.