Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands-North-West, Matt Carthy has said that the crisis of regional imbalance and rural decline is the great failure of successive Irish governments.
Addressing a public meeting in Kingscourt, Co. Cavan, the MEP said:
“Regional imbalances and rural decline is the great failure of successive governments. These have come about, not by accident, but are in fact clear consequences of the actions of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael led governments."
“I have consistently raised at EU level the issue of regional imbalances in Ireland and highlighted the lack of key infrastructure here," he continued.
“I have also raised the issue of the economic and social problems created by the border and have been working with others to find ways of using the European institutions to support further North-South integration. With the advent of Brexit this has become an extremely critical issue."
Matt said he has sought to reduce overly burdensome regulations imposed on small and medium businesses, on farmers and on local authorities.
“But the truth is that while we can champion measures at EU level to address these issues, there will not be adequate recourse until there is a fundamental change of government policy," he remarked.
He insisted that this means rural based MEPs, TDs and Councillors, particularly from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, must join Sinn Féin in demanding significant investment in rural counties.
“As a first step the ongoing attack on rural communities – as seen in the closure of rural garda stations, schools and post offices – must end," Carthy urged.
“Crucially, it means thinking big for rural Ireland. There is no reason why Cavan and Monaghan have no rail line, or even adequate road infrastructure, or why so many parts of these counties haven’t broadband or why we have no prospect for international investment."
"Even now, so many of our young people continue to leave home in order to get a job, which can be directly attributed to the fact that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments have not and will not invest adequately in the infrastructure and services we need," he continued.
“It’s not much use providing funding for a community centre if their policies mean that there will be no community to use them in a generation or two."
“It isn’t sufficient to welcome investment in a childcare facility if you’re voting in favour of budgets that mean that when those children finish school they will have no choice but to leave their home parish to get a job," Carthy added.
“This was brought home to me very starkly recently as I listened to the glee of the Fianna Fáil TDs in this constituency welcome the fact that Cavan is to be reunited for the purposes of voting in the next General Election."
“The fact that they were oblivious to the fact that the people of North Meath are to be inflicted with the same injustice of being separated from the rest of their county was lost on them, reinforcing my view that their priority when it comes to jobs goes no further than saving their own."
"While Sinn Féin welcomes the fact that Cavan will be reunited we understand that the reason it is considered necessary to divide counties in the first place, whether it be Cavan or Meath – is because our populations are growing much slower than urban centres."
“That is not an accident – it is because Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael continue to pursue policies detrimental to the interests of rural Ireland."
"The representatives of those parties from rural communities need to join with us in Sinn Féin and insisting that we deserve the same services, infrastructure and investment as any other region and refuse to support any government or budget or policy (whether it be domestic or European) that doesn’t live up to our ambitious expectations," he concluded.
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