Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Regional Development, Rural Affairs and Gaeltacht Éamon Ó Cuív says the Government are already reneging on their commitments to rural Ireland.
Deputy Ó Cuív made the comments following the publication of the latest revised budgetary estimates for the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht. No extra money was provided for rural and regional development in these revised estimates.
“These revised estimates show that, despite all of the talk of a new start for rural Ireland, the Government hasn’t put in place the resources needed to protect and develop rural communities. Minister Ring’s rhetoric about standing up for rural Ireland has been blown away in a puff of smoke following the publication of these revised estimates,” said Ó Cuív.
“The estimates show that the total funding for rural and regional development, including the LEADER programme, will amount to €60m in total. There is no additional funding for rural Ireland in these estimates as this is a direct transfer of existing funding from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government. This is in stark contrast to the commitment made by Fine Gael to ramp up investment in rural Ireland.
“The Government should be rolling out fibre broadband to every home and business in rural Ireland as a matter of urgency. The Department of Communications has been given overall responsibility for the deployment of broadband, but I remain to be convinced that the department is committed to rural communities.
“It’s also alarming that there is no provision for CLÁR funding in the revised estimates. This programme provided vital funding under the last Fianna Fáil Government for the development of rural infrastructure. Such infrastructure has been starved of funding under the previous Fine Gael and Labour Government. This needs to change.
“The Government must deliver on the commitments it made to rural Ireland. We must see additional investment in services and infrastructure to ensure rural Ireland reaches its potential. What is the point of having a dedicated rural and regional development department if you do not give it adequate funding and responsibilities?”