€10m to regenerate rural Ireland only a ‘drop in the ocean’

The announcement that the Government is to allocate €10m to regenerate rural Ireland may be welcome but Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice described it as “a drop in the ocean”.

The Government will have to commit far more resources if it wants to show that it is serious about the revival of rural Ireland, he said.

“The scheme says that an allocation of €380,000 will be made to each county and that a maximum of eight projects will receive funding per county which works out at less than €50,000 per project which will not achieve anything significant.”

As far as I can see this is window dressing so as the Government can say that it is doing something to revive rural Ireland.

But, Fitzmaurice said that there are far more serious issues to be addressed like poor mobile phone signals, broadband, health issues and many more.

“The Government will have to do better than this to show that they are serious about addressing the economic imbalance that exists in the country between the east coast and Dublin in particular and rural Ireland.”

€10m funding for rural Ireland a ‘publicity stunt’

Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin MEP, has said that this week’s Government announcement of funding through the Town and Village Renewal Scheme goes nowhere near addressing the needs of rural Ireland and will be seen by many communities as a mere publicity stunt.

“I welcome this belated Government acknowledgement that urgent and special attention is needed for rural communities following the absolute devastation felt by them over the past decade.

“However, this announcement will be seen by many of those communities as nothing more than a publicity stunt. €380,000 per county will go nowhere towards addressing the problems that exist in rural Ireland.”

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Carthy said that Donegal, Mayo and Sligo have all witnessed decreases in population while several other rural counties have stagnant growth rates.

“It is clear that there is a difficulty in keeping young people in these rural areas anymore. A genuine strategy with meaningful commitments is what is now needed to tackle issues faced by rural areas.”

The Sinn Fein MEP said that this requires proposals to address the gaps in infrastructural development, job creation and public services in those areas that need the most support.

“Sinn Féin has been calling for a focus on creating employment in rural towns through imposing an obligation on enterprise development agencies to do so.

“There must be an end to the closure of vital local services such as post offices, libraries and Garda stations and end end to upward only rents for small businesses.”

These are some of the elements of a genuine approach to tackling the problems of rural Ireland as opposed to gimmicks, he said.

While all available funding will be gladly seized by communities, Carthy said it will not be enough to address the real needs of rural Ireland.