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Regional Decline Accelerates under Fine Gael and Independents – Tóibín

14 July, 2016

Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson for Rural and Regional Affairs Peadar Tóibín has criticised Fine Gael for allowing the west of the country to severely depopulate during its successive turns in office and turning those residents who are left into 2nd class citizens.

The Meath West TD said:

“Regional Decline has accelerated in parts of the west under the six years of Fine Gael government and there is no evidence that the replacing of Labour with Independents will make any significant impact. Excuses that the recession is to blame will not cut it with communities across the Western sea board. Ireland is an outlier with regards the relative over-concentration of population and economic activity in one small corner of the state. This problem is progressively getting worse.

“This is seriously damaging for people living in Dublin as property and rent prices spiral, services such as school and crèche places become scarce and congestion grinds the economy to a halt. On the flip side, the depopulation in the regions leads to the closing of schools, post offices, Garda stations, and banks. Donegal and Sligo have experienced serious depopulation over the last five years. Mayo, despite having a Taoiseach, also sees its population fall. Leitrim has half the population it had at the foundation of the state and only 20% of its population peak. Many other counties in Ulster, Connacht, and west Munster fare little better.

“Fine Gael’s efforts to disrupt this trend can be characterised by lip service, inertia, and disinterest. The vast majority of IDA investment over the last six years has gone into the Dublin region. Citizens in the west are 2nd class digital citizens unable to access the global e-commerce market. The north-west which has suffered the greatest depopulation has neither motorway nor decent rail access with Dublin or Belfast.  Decreased bus connectivity in the last five years has hurt rural communities throughout the west, an area at a critical juncture. We need radical disruptive economic development now or else surrender half the state to a depopulated future.” 

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