Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen says he’s seriously concerned about Fine Gael’s commitment to rejuvenate rural Ireland. His comments come following the publication of the Government’s latest initiative to revitalise rural areas.
“I have serious concerns about the plan itself, as well as the Government’s ability to implement it. The plan is too little, too late and is simply a rehash of previous announcements made by the Government. If I was to sum up how I feel about the plan, I would say underwhelmed. I wanted to see a forward looking, imaginative strategy to reinvigorate rural areas, particularly here in Offaly,” said Deputy Cowen.
“What has been unveiled this week is a piecemeal rehash of previous press releases and announcements. Fine Gael has not learned that spin doesn’t bring jobs to rural towns, spin doesn’t keep post offices, schools and GP surgeries open, and spin certainly doesn’t entice young people to stay in rural regions to work, raise a family, and energise their communities.
“Rural Ireland is facing major challenges. Communities up and down the country are seriously asking themselves – have we a future?
"This is the 4th ‘rural plan’ launched by Fine Gael while in Government. The CEDRA Report, the Rural Charter and commitments in the Programme for Government have all failed to deliver for rural Ireland. This reveals a systemic rural policy failure by the Government. It’s clear that Fine Gael has no long term vision, nor appetite, for rural communities.
“Rural Ireland needs a strategic plan to enable all the regions to achieve their full potential. This plan must focus on massive investment in infrastructure to bring services such as broadband up to a high international standard. Further investment is needed in our transport network to connect towns and villages. Businesses need access to high quality services to enable job creation.
“The Government’s latest initiative for rural Ireland lacks strategic vision and serves only to underpin the gross neglect of rural Ireland. It’s time for Fine Gael to start paying attention to people living in Ireland instead of simply paying lip-service to the issues that affect them.”