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Grainne Mhic Géidigh, challenges the taoiseach to address the unemployment crisis in Donegal

26 November, 2004


Sinn Féin candidate in the upcoming uduras na gaeltachta, Grainne Mhic Géidigh, has today challenged the taoiseach to address the unemployment crisis in Donegal.

Grainne challenged the taoisecah while he was here on a visit to the county and handed him a letter of protest which drew particular attention to the fact that none of the decentralised job that were promised to the county last year will not materialise until al least 5 years time if ever.

COPY OF LETTER HANDED TO THE TAOISEACH

An Taoiseach,

We would like to protest in the strongest terms about the continual failure of the Government that you lead to tackle the jobs crisis in Donegal. It is estimated that over the last 8 years, we have lost in the region of 5,000 jobs in the textile industry alone in this county. These job losses have been felt in almost every town, village, and parish from Malin Head to Ballyshannon and from Lifford to Gweedore.

It is now six years since your colleague Mary Harney established the Donegal Employment Initiative or "Task Force" following the initial job losses at Fruit of the Loom in 1998. The Task Force report set job creation targets of 815 net gains per year for the following seven years. Those targets are now a distant memory. Since then we have seen more and more job losses in every corner of Donegal.

The unemployment rate in Donegal at 16% is around 4 times the national average. Hopelessness and despair has begun to seep in to our communities. Taoiseach, we urge you to grasp the extent of the jobs crisis in our county and show leadership and vision. We in Donegal Sinn Féin are willing to play our part in whatever strategy is agreed. What is clear, however, is that the present job creation strategies have been a dismal failure and new ideas and real action are now absolutely crucial.

It is in this light that we must further protest at your Government's acceptance of the recommendations from the Decentralisation Implementation Group that have excluded all of the three Donegal locations, Donegal Town, Buncrana, and Gweedore from the first phase of decentralisation leading into 2008. Taoiseach, this really is the final insult from your government to the people of Donegal. The whole concept of decentralisation was about moving the government departments from Dublin out in to the regions. In essence, it was about bringing government to the people and giving a leg up to regional towns through out the country. No county needs a leg up right now more than Donegal. No county feels further removed from decision making and central government than Donegal yet not one decentralised job will be coming to this county in the next 4 to 5 years. This is an utter disgrace.

We now call on you to make good on the promises and assurances of your Government and in particular by Minister Mary Coughlan and former Minister James McDaid to the people of these three communities.

Taoiseach, there are many other pressing issues that are of much importance to the people of Donegal such as increased investment in our health and education services locally but we have intentionally focussed on the desperate need for the creation of jobs in this letter. You recently proclaimed yourself to be a republican and a socialist. We welcome your new direction. Let addressing the inherent inequalities that we have had to endure in Donegal be the first opportunity to prove your credentials. We in Donegal Sinn Féin will be monitoring you very closely.

Le Dea Ghui,

Grainne Mhic Géidigh

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