Government ‘trying to drive people away from rural areas’ – TD

Results from a recent report from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows that the current Government is making inroads in its efforts to drive people to live in urban areas, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

The Roscommon-Galway TD commented giving his reaction to figures from the “Urban and Rural Life in Ireland 2019” report which was published earlier this week.

It stated that between 2011 and 2016 there was a fall of 0.6% in the number of people living in areas which were classed as highly rural or remote areas.

This was despite all five other areas – namely cities, satellite urban towns, independent urban towns, rural areas with high urban influences, and rural areas with moderate urban influences – all reporting increases.

Speaking on the topic, deputy Fitzmaurice said:

In my opinion, this is evidence of what this Government is trying to achieve as part of its Project Ireland 2040 plan; it is trying to drive people away from rural areas and into towns and cities.

“The fact that there has been a 0.6% fall in the number of people classed as living in highly rural or remote areas is indicative of the treatment people from rural Ireland are being forced to deal with from this Government.”

Continuing, the TD said that Government policies are “forcing people to choose urban over rural” when it comes to putting down roots and raising families.

“Services in rural areas have been cut or done away with altogether. Just look at how many post offices and Garda stations have been closed.

Meanwhile, public transport in rural areas leaves a lot to be desired, to say the very least.

“On the other hand, resources are pumped into urban areas. But we all know the problems when it comes to housing in these larger urban centres such as Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Cork,” he said.

Deputy Fitzmaurice said that an approach needs to be implemented which ensures fair growth in all areas of Ireland, rural or urban.

“For this to happen, resources need to be distributed in the proper manner in order to ensure that people have access to critical services right across the country.

“We now have almost 4.7 million living in Ireland, with trends showing an ageing population.

Highly rural areas had the highest age at 41.2 years in 2016. But young families must be provided with the opportunity to live and work in rural Ireland.

This would make enormous sense given the state of the housing sector in some of Ireland’s cities, deputy Fitzmaurice concluded.