Senator Pearse Doherty speaks on Regional Development
Over the past year I have travelled the length and breadth of the west of Ireland from west cork to Donegal. I have meet with communities who are fighting for their very survival, communities that have witnessed over previous decades the withdrawal of vital services and in theses economic circumstances are seeing further cuts in services, further cuts in funding and further deepening of regional inequalities.
Many of the communities feel helpless in their ability to halt the decline. Their voices are not being heard in the corridors of power. Their lobbies are to weak to exert the pressure that is needed to bring about change.
In my journeys I was privileged to meet with those that are working day and night for the advancement of their communities. I listened to their fears and their hope.
I heard from cancer patients of their fear of the withdrawal cancer services from communities such as Sligo, Castlebar and Tralee and their outrage that under a HSE report 1698 public patient beds will be lost in hospitals in the west by 2014.
I heard from the business community who face daily challenges due to the lack of support, due to the fact that basic infrastructure such as broadband is still not available in most of the west and where it is it is overpriced and of low speed.
I heard how the lack of investment in our roads and rail are negatively impacting on their business.
I listened to the unsung hero's in these communities who talked to me about the closure of their post offices, their Garda Stations, their local shop and local pub. They talked about the isolation that many people face in rural communities particularly our elderly.
A chairde the west of Ireland is facing a death by a thousand cuts. At last years Ard Fheis I called for the west of Ireland to come together to agree a common platform and begin the fight back for the west of Ireland. To create a new vision for the west.
That fight back has begun and that vision is being provided by this party.
Our 'West Awake' campaign has give hope where previously there was none.
Joined by Cllr Pádraig MacLochlanin and Ruadhan Mac Aodhan and assisted by our representatives along the west coast I have complete a report for the Oireachtas on the needs of the west of Ireland. 'Awaking the West: Overcoming Social and Economic Inequalities' is an economic recovery strategy for the west, it a vision of a vibrant and confident region, it is a call to action.
We have got rid of the myth that the west is neglected and established that in cold hard facts. We have identified the problems and proposed the solutions. These solutions are based on republican politics.