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Creating jobs in Rural Ireland must become a national priority – Tóibín

27 September, 2012

Unemployment, emigration and the depopulation of rural communities are major problems which are going un-tackled according to the Sinn Féin spokesperson on jobs Peadar Tóibín. 

Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships Deputy Tóibín said:

“The Fine Gael/Labour Government has failed to create employment in rural communities and is content to see tens of thousands of our young people leave the country every year.  Unless action is taken the crisis in rural communities will get worse.  

“There are many things that the government can do – the first is to face up to what economists in Ireland and internationally have been saying for several years – you cannot cut your way out of recession.  The government deficit needs to be tackled but it must be done hand in hand with a programme to get people back to work. 

“In the coming weeks Sinn Féin will be launching a major job creation document with detailed proposals for a €13billion stimulus programme over four years which would create and retain more than 150,000 jobs.  If implemented these proposals would have a huge impact on communities across Ireland and in stemming the tide of emigration.” 

Among the key proposals are:

-       Set regional job creation targets - To address the clear imbalance in job creation there should be regional and sub-regional job creation targets set out for Enterprise Ireland, the IDA and other Enterprise Support Agencies.

-       Development of the agri-food sector including the establishment of a forum of all supermarket suppliers and members of each producer organisation, who subsequently set up a working committee of each representative group/sub-sector, to negotiate a fair trading regime on behalf of suppliers

-       Re-establishment of a bio-refinery plant in the southeast, which would produce sugar as well as ethanol from beet and grain again. The estimated cost for this project is €350 million with the potential to create 5,000 jobs

-       A pro-active approach to establishing co-ops to aid job creation in rural communities including the creation of tax incentives for co-operatives that create employment in rural or disadvantaged areas and making vacant IDA, Udaras and other public bodies' premises available for co-op use.

-       Providing essential infrastructure including housing, new school build and primary health care centres.

-       Tackling the mis-use of ‘Irish’ branding - Initiate a campaign to urge the food catering industry to use domestic suppliers and increased monitoring of 'Irish goods' labelling (there is mounting evidence that the 'Ireland' brand is being mis-sold to confuse consumers who do wish to buy Irish).

-       The ESB, Bord Gais and Coillte to work together to roll-out comprehensive high-end broadband coverage. The ESB already owns a 1,300 km national fibre optic network, Aurora Telecom is a Bord Gáis Enterprise company established in 2000 specialising in fibre optic network services and Coillte also has 220 mast sites and 100 new rural broadband sites.

-       Develop Coillte’s role in eco-tourism.  With 10 forest parks and over 150 recreation sites Coillte is the leading provider of outdoor recreation in Ireland with an estimated 18 million visits to forests under its management each year.

-       Review the current sell-by date regulations which allows importers to avail of the same sell-by date as domestic producers, despite the fact their products actually take a longer shelf life after including the import process.  We would also introduce air miles labelling for all imports.

-       €1billion investment in wind power industry and wave energy. It is estimated that this industry has the capacity to create 50,000 jobs over 15 years.

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