Limerick TD Niall Collins says he’s not surprised by a report which found that two towns in the county are some of the most economically depressed in the country. Abbeyfeale and Rathkeale came in the bottom five towns in the Teagasc survey of economic performance, indicating they’ve suffered some of the worst effects of the downturn.
“This survey confirms something that has long been felt in rural parts of Limerick. Areas like Abbeyfeale and Rathkeale have been forgotten by the Dublin based Ministers who are making all the economic decisions. Rural towns haven’t been a priority for this Government, which seems concentrated on attracting investment to large towns and cities”, commented Deputy Collins.
“It’s become abundantly clear that Ministers have lost interest in small towns and villages. They’ve already taken away vital amenities like garda stations and post offices as well as overseeing cuts to small schools. Bank branches have closed and State funding for local services has been scaled back. The Government approach has been to attack rural Ireland rather than trying to revitalise communities. Places like Abbeyfeale and Rathkeale have suffered increases in unemployment and emigration but there’s been no effort to address these issues.
“These towns are well removed from the city, and have been overlooked in terms of investment and infrastructure. These communities have seen their town centres collapse, with no plans for redevelopment or regeneration the horizon. The Government can no longer afford to isolate rural Ireland, Ministers talk constantly of job creation being their number one priority, but people in Abbeyfeale and Rathkeale aren’t seeing any results.
“There needs to be a focused approach to revitalise these communities rather than the current tactics of ignoring rural towns in Limerick and concentrating on investment in Dublin and surrounding areas. If the Government’s current strategy is allowed to continue, Limerick County will suffer at the hands of the urban economy, and the promised recovery will not be realised”.