Rural communities need investment to survive – Buckley
Sinn Féin TD for East Cork Pat Buckley has called on the Government to invest long term in rural communities to tackle isolation and develop local industry. He made his comments as part of a debate on the Rural Equality Bill 2017 published by Sinn Féin which would require the Government to rural-proof future policy to tackle depopulation and improve services outside of urban areas.
Deputy Buckley said:
“It is the job of a government and a state which claims to be a republic to treat all its people as equals, with an equal right to housing, healthcare, education and other essential services which we depend on to live and to prosper.
“Ireland thrives not just on the strength of Dublin or a few urban centres but these small towns and villages between them. These towns and villages remain small, underdeveloped and struggling because of that lack of investment; a vicious circle which leaves us ever closer to destruction of this way of life.
“Courtmacsherry in my own County once had a railway station, dance hall, cinema, petrol station and 17 shops but the last shop in the town closed its doors. Last summer, residents founded a Co-op.
“We cannot nor should we all live in big towns, cities or commuter belts.
“This Bill by my colleague Martin Kenny is an excellent step towards forcing government and departments to break with his tradition and place rural communities on equal footing with urban areas.
“It would make a process of vetting and deliberation of all relevant policy necessary in order to ensure that rural communities were considered and their needs addressed.
“If this has been in place years ago, we would not have the mess of our telecommunications networks. Many rural communities barely have mobile phone coverage while huge numbers have either no access to broadband or patchy low speed expensive privately provided connections which make doing business difficult at best.
“Without a new approach likes this, we are setting a course for even worse outcomes for rural areas in the future; even more wasted potential and missed opportunity.
“If we do not invest in the whole of Ireland, we are not really investing in it at all.”