Comprehensive rural action needed to solve deep seated challenges – Tóibín
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Rural Affairs Peadar Tóibín TD has welcomed the announcement of the rural home renovation grant. However he has warned that issues facing rural Ireland of a graver and more complex nature must be tackled as a priority.
Deputy Tóibín said:
“The announcement of the rural home renovation grant is to be welcomed. However, if the deep seated challenges facing rural Ireland are not also addressed, it will have little significant benefit.
“Research shows that young couples with young children are locating themselves where both parents can find work. Due to a collapse in transport investment and weak, in some cases non-existent, communications infrastructure, these dual income locations are found in only a half a dozen counties in the state.
“The provision of jobs in towns throughout the midlands, west, and border areas is pivotal for families to realistically take up the opportunity of moving to rural towns and villages. This won’t happen until there is decent broadband and mobile phone coverage. It won’t happen while the road network is allowed to depreciate and while buses are once a day experience for many towns and villages.
“It is also of critical importance that banks, Garda stations and health services are not allowed to close down, while initiatives, such the rural home renovation grant, are rolled out. The Government is working against itself if it allows 500 Post Offices become unsustainable while offering renovation grants for homes next door to closed Post Offices.
“The retreat of agriculture, the live blood of rural communities must also be arrested. Currently, only 30,000 farmers in the state are understood to be economically sustainable. Yet, the Minister for Energy has yet to provide feed in tariffs for solar or bio energy electricity generated from farms. Shockingly each year Bord na Móna importing millions of euro in timber instead of the government properly developing energy crop supply chains here in Ireland.”