Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Regional, Rural, Gaeltacht & Island Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív says the Government’s complete disregard for rural Ireland has been exposed following the circulation of a letter from the Chairperson of the Western Development Commission outlining his complete frustration with the Government over its failure to balanced regional development.

Paddy McGuinness has written to Minister Michael Ring asking him not to re-appoint him as Chairperson of the WDC. In a damning letter to the Acting CEO of the WDC, Mr. McGuinness explained that he believes “strongly that there is absolutely no commitment at either political or administrative level to balanced regional development nor is there any worthwhile plan to redress rural decline”.  He also details what he terms the Government’s “lack of interest in the Commission’s work”.

Deputy Ó Cuív commented, “Paddy McGuinness is one of rural Ireland’s greatest advocates and the fact that he has had to take such unprecedented action is deeply regrettable.  However, it is further evidence of the anger and frustration that exists in rural Ireland at this Government’s complete disinterest and abandonment of communities in the western region.

“The Western Development Commission was set up in the late 1990s to help reverse the effects of mass emigration and to restore communities and employment in towns and villages in the West and North West region.  It has been extremely successful, but in recent years has been starved of resources and Government support.  In fact, the Department has taken a completely hands off approach.  There have been issues with board membership – with no board in place for over three months in 2014 and the CEO position has been vacant for almost three years.  This is completely unacceptable.

“This Government’s attitude to the Western Development Commission, and rural Ireland as a whole, is a disgrace.  All we have are token gestures and a series of announcements with no real action on the ground.  This is simply not sustainable.

“Ministers Humphreys and Ring need to wake up to the seriousness of the situation and take urgent action to address the problems which Mr. McGuinness and others have raised.  They cannot continue to ignore the needs of rural communities and the sooner they realise this, the better.  I will be raising this issue with the relevant Ministers in the Dáil next week”.