Updated: 24/01/17 : 05:28:34
Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo - Leitrim Marc MacSharry says he has serious concerns with the €60m plan unveiled by the Government yesterday, Monday, to rejuvenate rural Ireland.The 273-point Action Plan for Rural Development includes a promise to revitalise 600 towns and villages, and support 135,000 new jobs within four years.
Deputy MacSharry says the plan is too little, too late and is simply a rehash of previous announcements made by the Government.
“The plan unveiled by Minister Heather Humphreys is underwhelming. It lacks any sort of imagination to deal with the new challenges facing people living in rural Ireland. It is a piecemeal plan and contains many initiatives which have already been announced by the Government. Unfortunately it seems Fine Gael’s policy of spin over substance is continuing,” said Deputy MacSharry.
"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 for rural communities."
Deputy MacSharry continued, "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.
“I also believe we need to see a rebalancing of the focus and budgets IDA and Enterprise Ireland with the view to giving greater priority to the north-west region in particular. There has been a disproportionate focus on attracting investment into Dublin in recent years. This needs to change - we want to see an Ireland for All.
“The Governments latest initiative for rural Ireland is pitiful. It 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,” concluded the Sligo based TD.