People in Rural Ireland Perplexed by Minister Ring’s assessment of Action Plan for Rural Development – Senator Rose Conway-Walsh
Mayo Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has said that people living in Rural Ireland and those who have been forced to emigrate are perplexed by Minister Ring’s review of the Government’s performance in relation to the implementation of the Action Plan for Rural Development.
Speaking this morning after Minister Ring comments regarding the programme review, Senator Conway-Walsh said:
“I am astonished at Minister Ring’s assessment that the Rural Action Plan is delivering real results. It is disingenuous to all those who are without essential services such as broadband, mobile phone coverage, healthcare and basic infrastructure to be told that things are not as bad as they think.
"It is also not good enough for Minister Ring to speak vaguely about improvements coming down the line.
“Minister Ring quite rightly identified lack of appropriate broadband services as the major obstacle to rural development. Yet after this he offers nothing new but instead re-hashes old figures.
"One of the key objectives of the plan was to bring high speed broadband to every premises in Ireland through the roll out of the National Broadband Plan and improve mobile phone access in rural areas.
"I know firsthand here in Belmullet the unreliability of the broadband service. It is simply not good enough to say that things are improving and that the situation isn’t as bad as it was last year. If this is Minister Ring’s measure of progress for Rural Ireland then he needs to think again.”
“This plan is not delivering the real change for people living and working in Rural Ireland. They can dress it up all they like and fiddle about with the figures but the fact is people are still being forced to emigrate to find a job where they can pay the mortgage, the rent and the bills.
"Waiting lists for medical treatment continue to increase, home help hours continue to be cut and ambulance services are stretched beyond their capacity. Even in major towns like Castlebar some households struggle to get proper mobile phone coverage.
"So when people hear this government congratulating themselves on how well they have done in delivering for Rural Ireland they rightly scratch their heads and wonder what parallel universe they are living in.”
“The development of the R312 road from Erris to Castlebar will serve as a litmus test for how the Rural Development plan is delivering results that positively impact peoples’ lives.
"Minister Ring also stated that he would love to have more money to spend on rural Ireland. He is now a minister with a voice at the cabinet table. He is no longer an observer of rural policy but the main driver of it. It is up to him to apply political pressure on his colleagues to secure extra funding immediately.