Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West Éamon Ó Cuív has criticised the Government for its negative attitude towards rural Ireland. Deputy Ó Cuív accused Ministers of concentrating recovery efforts on cities and urban areas, while abandoning programmes and withdrawing essential services from rural areas.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented, “Over the past four years we’ve witnesses this Government set about dismantling a wide range of programmes and initiatives, which had been established by the previous administration to protect and promote the regions. The Decentralisation programme was abandoned, the CLÁR scheme was scrapped, Community Welfare Officers were withdrawn and rural Garda stations and Post Offices were closed. Small schools have also been subjected to a raft of cuts, with 16 one teacher schools across Galway and Mayo alone.
“The only concession that this Government has made to rural Ireland is the Report of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas, but has failed to roll out any of the recommendations contained in it. Despite setting up a “high level” Inter-Departmental Group, which is chaired by Minister of State Ann Phelan, the committee has only met three times. The group claims it will put forward a number of priority proposals to support economic development in early 2015, however are now already into 2015 and there are no signs of any of these plans.
“This Government started as it intended to continue. It abolished the Department of Rural Development and the dedicated Minister. This was a clear indication of its lack of interested in rural issues , and in the intervening years Ministers have set about systematically downgrading rural programmes and initiatives while concentrating their efforts on large towns, cities and urban areas”.