‘Fine Gael has delivered for rural Ireland; but we know it’s not enough’ – Ring

The Fine Gael party has outlined its election promises for rural Ireland at an event in Golden, Co. Tipperary, today, Wednesday, January 23.

At the event, the Minister for Community and Rural Development, Michael Ring, said: “Fine Gael – in Government – has delivered for rural Ireland – but we know it’s not enough and we want to do more.

“We created the Department of Rural and Community Development to put a senior voice at the cabinet table, and we are committed to keeping this department.

But more than that, we want to ensure the people living in rural Ireland have a real say in decisions about their future development.

Continuing, Minister Ring said: “To do this, we will establish a Rural Youth Assembly to give young people a voice about the future they want to build, and also hold Rural Ideas Forums to help communities make and implement policies for themselves.

“Through my work with community organisations the length and breadth of the country, I know the level of enthusiasm and passion that we can tap into with these new initiatives.”

Concluding, Minister Ring said: “We want Ireland to be a place where people can live, work and thrive in their local communities.”

Some of the initiatives in Fine Gael’s rural Ireland plan include:
  • Doubling the funding of Údarás na Gaeltachta to support Údarás-backed companies that currently employ 8,200 people to grow more jobs;
  • A new tourism strategy for Gaeltacht areas;
  • Prioritise the work of Údarás in developing the ‘Gaeltacht na hÉireann’ brand;
  • A National Strategy for Volunteering;
  • A new National Outdoor Recreation Strategy;
  • A dedicated policy for island development, based on extensive consultation with island communities;
  • A charter with local authorities to prioritise rural development;
  • Measures to support more social enterprises;
  • An online portal to streamline grant applications for community groups;
  • Supporting community groups to help welcome and integrate newcomers.

According to a statement from Fine Gael, the party plans to “build on the work done to rebalance development across the country”.

The statement outlines that the party plans on doing this by “focusing on creating high-quality local jobs, revitalising our towns and villages and connecting communities”.

Tanáiste’s comments

Also at the event today, Tanáiste Simon Coveney said: “Part of our plan to deliver for rural Ireland is to make 2023 the ‘Year of the Invitation’ – a global invitation to the diaspora and our friends abroad to visit Ireland on the 10-year anniversary of The Gathering.

The Gathering saw more than 5,000 special Gathering events for the diaspora organised by communities nationwide, generating €170 million in revenue.

Continuing, Coveney said: “Fine Gael has prioritised balanced regional development by investing in the organisations and clubs that are the backbone of our communities, prioritising vital infrastructure and working to boost job creation in the regions.

“Under Project Ireland 2040 we will prioritise investment decisions which will ensure 50% of future population growth occurs in our towns, villages and rural communities.

We will deliver broadband to every home, farm and business in rural Ireland under the National Broadband Plan. No other party has a plan like this.

“This will ensure our planned Remote Working Strategy will benefit people living across the country whether they live in Golden, Tipperary, Cappamore, Limerick or in Dublin. We want to cancel the commute for people and ensure everyone spends more time with their families.

“Since mid-2017, approximately 77,000 jobs were created outside of Dublin. We will ensure that the creation of high-quality jobs continues in our regions.

“A Fine Gael Government will invest €1 billion in job creation in rural areas and deliver improvements in our towns and villages with a population of less than 10,000 through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund. We are already investing €148 million in 110 projects.

“We will also deliver key infrastructural projects under Project Ireland 2040 including the M20 Cork to Limerick and the N5 Westport to Turlough.

Other parties, like Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, may want to turn their back on key roads projects, but we won’t.

“To further boost job creation we will also expand remit of Local Enterprise Offices to support growing companies with more than 10 employees with grant aid.”

Concluding, Coveney noted: “Other innovative initiatives in this plan include a Dark Skies Strategy for Ireland, building on our two internationally recognised dark sky locations in Mayo and Kerry.”