Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP has called on the Government to urgently address the problems facing rural Ireland by ensuring that EU funding is distributed in a fair and equitable manner ensuring that all 15 counties in the Midlands-North-West experience the benefits.

Mr Gallagher said today, “The heart is out of rural Ireland. Over the last several weeks, I have visited each and every county in the Midlands-North-West constituency. The issues affecting rural towns and villages throughout the constituency are strikingly familiar.

Mr Gallagher added, “Ireland remains a net beneficiary under the EU budget for the period 2014 to 2020. This is an opportunity for the Government to address this urgent and pressing matter. The Government must ensure that the €1.2 billion in vital structural funds that are available to Ireland are used to tackle youth and long term unemployment, provide adequate support for our SMEs and to ensure the roll out of broadband technology.

“As a serving MEP, I worked hard to protect the Border, Midlands and Western region under the EU budget. As a result, the region will receive an additional allocation of €100 million in structural funds.

Mr Gallagher concluded “These funds must be fairly distributed throughout the country and the Government must commit to matching funds, if it is serious about the survival of rural Ireland.”