New Rural Development plan ‘papering over the cracks of rural decline’ – Ó Clochartaigh
Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has described a new rural development plan announced by the government this morning as “an insult to rural Ireland”, saying that €30m spread over a number of years symbolises nothing more than a token gesture to the people of rural communities who have suffered deeply due to austerity.
The Senator said that with an election looming, the government has realised that it has ignored rural decline for five years and by painting derelict houses and mending street lights, it hopes to paper over the cracks of rural degeneration.
Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships, Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:
“The idea that the government is to be commended for such a token gesture is laughable. Fine Gael and Labour have forced the closure of Garda stations and rural schools. Post offices are becoming a memory in villages that depended so greatly upon them. Rural Ireland has suffered, and suffered hard as a result of government austerity. This is really just further insult to injury.
“Given that 70% of our citizens live in rural Ireland, will the government rural proof its decisions and give proper investment to rural Ireland, bearing in mind the devastating effects of mass emigration on communities and families? If €30m spread over years to mend street lights and derelict buildings is the best they can do, it doesn’t seem likely. Merely papering over the cracks is not going to fool the rural electorate.
“Sinn Féin has produced a detailed report outlining measures we would take to rejuvenate rural Ireland and build sustainable communities. These include; regenerating rural towns, keeping open post offices, libraries, Garda stations and other services, addressing the business rates, and prioritising the roll out of high speed broadband. It is time that the government start taking the rural heart of Ireland seriously.”