Rural development initiatives in recent years, in Ireland and elsewhere in western Europe, have placed great emphasis on ideas of integration, participation and empowerment. As a consequence, at both national and European Union levels, there have been a range of territorially-based programmes which, to a greater or lesser extent, espouse the idea of a more locally attuned ‘bottom-up’ approach to rural development. This approach is seen as a more appropriate mechanism than traditional 'top-down' strategies. While current strategies might be seen as offering new possibilities for those living in rural areas, this paper presents some evidence from on-going research in Ireland suggesting that there are a number of issues which need to be teased out. Two key themes are highlighted. Firstly, there are a number of what can be seen as ‘technical’ considerations centring on the mechanics of co-ordination and integration. Secondly, there are issues pertaining to power relationships at both national and local levels which need to be explored
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