Speaking in the Dail on the opening day of the National Ploughing Championships, Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD said that the austerity policies of the Fine Gael/Labour Government are perpetuating huge levels unemployment, emigration and poverty among rural communities.
Mr Adams said that austerity was stripping rural communities of schools, guidance counsellors, hospitals, post-offices and Garda stations. He added that new taxes and charges such as the property tax, VAT increases, motor tax increases and septic tank charges have increased the pressure.
“In marked contrast to the positivity evident at the Ploughing Championships, the social fabric of rural Ireland is being undermined with a growth in isolation, loneliness and suicide. The second biggest numbers for suicide are among those working in agriculture”, he said.
Asking the Taoiseach whether his Government’s plan for rural Ireland was merely more cuts, he urged him to introduce measures such as a jobs retention fund for small businesses, incentives to local producers and specific initiatives to provide young people with job opportunities and to give emigrants a reason to return to Ireland.
Mr Adams said the forthcoming Budget was an opportunity to support rural Ireland by introducing measures which would retain and create jobs, tackle unemployment and emigration and said rural Ireland urgently needed a break from the devastating impact of austerity agenda.