Speaking at the launch of Sinn Féin’s ‘Love Rural Ireland’ campaign in Castlebar this morning the party’s Seanad Rural Affairs spokesperson Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh said:
“This government is ripping the heart out of rural Ireland. Communities that were once vibrant and thriving have been reduced to ghost towns. Businesses have shut down, rural post offices and garda stations have closed, poverty and social isolation are on the rise.
“Families across the state, but particularly in rural Ireland, are saying goodbye to their young people as they leave this country in droves in search of work. This can be clearly seen in the many GAA clubs around the country that are losing a wealth of talented young men and women to emigration.
“Successive Governments have neglected rural communities through a lack of investment in infrastructure, social services and education. We must reverse this trend to maintain vibrant villages and towns throughout our country which will attract people to living, investing and spending time there.
“Defending Rural Ireland is about fighting for equality for ordinary people throughout the island. It’s about listening to their needs, recognising their many gifts and advantages and shaping national policy to foster those communities that they live in.
“We have to build a future for our children that embraces the wealth and diversity of our rural areas, that connects them to our urban centres but allows them to have living, active and independent communities which promote an inclusive and supportive society for all who choose to live there.
“I, along with my colleague Martin Ferris TD, will soon embark on a fact-finding mission across rural Ireland. We will meet with a broad spectrum of stakeholders including representatives of the business community, farming and fishing organisations, rural schools, rural transport providers, anti-cuts campaigners, hospital groups etc. This work will form the basis of a comprehensive plan for the future of rural Ireland.
“It is time to give rural communities their voice back. It is time to stand up for rural Ireland and plan for its future.”