Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has criticised the Government’s lack of implementation of key recommendations on a report by the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) on rural development.
Senator Ó Clochartaigh quizzed Minister of State with responsibility for Rural Affairs, Ann Phelan on the lack of vision and inaction around rural development which has been coupled with a chronic lack of investment.
Senator Ó Clochartaigh stated:
“I raised questions with Minister Phelan about the Government's lack of implementation of the recommendations in the CEDRA report on rural development. Her speech and response were heavy on rhetoric, but very light on detail.
“I asked her in relation to job creation in rural areas, the rural town stimulus programme, the national spatial strategy, broadband development, cuts to rural transport, facilities for young people and the future role of the LEADER companies. She couldn't tell me what action is being taken on specific recommendations.
“I also noted that the €1m that has been earmarked for Rural Development in the budget is pitiful when you compare it to the €86m that Phil Hogan and the government sanctioned for consultants in Irish Water and is testimony in itself that her appointment and strategy are merely cosmetic and not a real attempt to address the pressing issues of rural communities.
“Minister Phelan also said that government policies are being rural-proofed from now on but gave no detail when questioned by me as to what method was being used and how that was being implemented. It is very difficult to have confidence in the Minister to fight the case for Rural Ireland with Cabinet colleagues when she doesn't have a clear vision of her own in this regard.”