Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Rural Affairs Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has questioned the government’s commitment to job creation in rural Ireland. Addressing the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in the Seanad Senator Ó Clochartiagh said:
“There is a certain sense that the employment rate is improving but figures in the quarterly national household survey show a decrease in the labour force in rural areas.
“For example, in the midlands for the first quarter of 2012 to the end of last year, there was a decrease from 129,000 to 128,600.
“In the west the decrease was from 211,200 to 204,800 and in the mid-east the decrease was from 262,000 to 254,000.
“These figures clearly indicate a decrease in labour force participation which is extremely worrying.
“One must also consider that the figures for the west include statistics for Galway city where there have been certain successes in terms of employment.
“However the fact remains that the IDA's target for creating more than 50% of jobs outside of Cork and Dublin has not been met.
“In light of this what are the Government’s plans to rejuvenate rural areas, create employment and keep people living in their communities?
“It’s time for the government and for Minister Bruton to address this question.
“We must deal with uneven regional development and bring a halt to the erosion of rural livelihoods.
“We need an innovative approach to job creation and meaningful and sustainable strategies that will kick start rural regeneration.”