Rural and Community Development Annual Report underlines need for greater protections for rural communities - Claire Kerrane TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Rural Development, Claire Kerrane TD, has called on the Minister for Rural and Community Development to bring forward crucial protections for rural communities.
This call follows the publication of the Department’s Annual Report 2021, which provided an overview of the policies, programmes and initiatives set out in the ‘Our Rural Future Strategy’.
Teachta Kerrane said:
“While there has been progress in some focus areas and increased funding from the Department, the report underlines several areas where important measures must be put in place to adequately support rural areas.
“I welcome investment in services and schemes, but we continue to see an absence of key measures which would underpin the revitalisation of our rural communities.
“For example, while it is positive that Minister Humphreys has launched working hubs in communities across the state, the legislation to ensure those living in rural areas have the right to use these facilities and to work remotely remains absent.
“Similarly, although the report discusses the need to support our Islands, we are still waiting for the Minister to launch her long-awaited Islands Strategy.
"The contents of this strategy are important for setting out exactly how the government intends to provide this support to Island communities over the next decade.
“I know from engagement with organisations like Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann, and those living in island communities, that the detail of the strategy really matters. So far, we are seeing little detail on what the strategy will entail.
“As well as this, the ‘Our Rural Future’ strategy clearly sets out intentions to develop a ‘rural-proofing’ model, to ensure the needs of rural communities are considered in the development of government policies.
“This is something Sinn Féin has called for and I introduced legislation on this very issue in 2021. My Rural Equality Bill seeks to ensure that rural needs assessments are considered as part of policy formation, so that rural Ireland is not left behind or adversely affected by government or state body decisions.
“However, there is still no indication of what this rural-proofing model will involve, or when it will be introduced. I have repeatedly raised the matter with the Minister and no timeline has been given.
“Considering the development of a rural-proofing model is not mentioned in the Department’s Annual Report, I again call on the Minister to clarify when we can expect to see this model be put in place.
“It is important that oversight and monitoring mechanisms serve to protect and support rural communities and that this is prioritised moving forward.
“Sinn Féin wants to ensure our rural communities are supported and can reach their full potential. The right ambition, investment, planning and commitment to delivery is crucial to making that happen.”