Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has said that Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan is missing a golden opportunity by not devoting more time and resources to the development of rural and marine recreation.

Deputy Ó Cuív commented: “There is the potential to create 3,000 jobs in rural and marine recreation, however, the present Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government seems totally disinterested in the possibilities of this sector. No significant progress has been made in relation to the development of this potential since the present Government came into power. There is a golden opportunity here and it is being lost by the Minister’s inaction.

“Considerable work was done during my period in that Department to get agreement between farmers and recreational users through Comhairle na Tuaithe, which seeks to develop a countryside recreation strategy. This work was very successful and a large number of projects were completed over the last number of years due to the work of the Department at that time.

“I realised that we were only scratching at the surface in relation to the potential for rural and marine recreation in the State and I had developed plans for a comprehensive approach in this regard.

“The subsuming of the community sector of the old Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs into the Department of the Environment has been a disaster and it has seen cutbacks in funding and cutbacks in staff along with total disinterest by the Minister.

“I now call on the Taoiseach to ensure that the full potential of rural recreation is realised and that a comprehensive national plan for the development of rural and marine recreation is launched.”