Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth says a letter sent from the Chairman of the Western Development Commission to its acting CEO has exposed this Government’s complete disregard for rural Ireland.

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 Smyth explained, “The issues raised in this letter will come as no surprise to people living in rural Ireland.  The list of grievances outlined by Mr. McGuinness are having an impact on rural residents every single day.  While I appreciate that they refer to the Western Development Commission, they are felt in many other organisations which are trying to work towards improving rural investment and employment prospects.

“Many communities across Cavan and Monaghan are struggling in the face of reduced services and investment.  Fine Gael has presided over the closure of rural Garda stations, small schools; and now post offices are under threat.  Banks are shutting branches because rural towns have been decimated by cruel Government cuts.  Rural Ireland is suffering and the Government’s answer is a series of announcements, which have resulted in very little action on the ground.

“The situation is particularly worrying in the border area.  Not only are communities being ignored by the Government, they have the fallout from Brexit to deal with as well.  We are already seeing the impact of falling Sterling and there are serious concerns for the region as it is still unclear if there will be a hard or malleable border.

“The letter from Mr. McGuinness has shone a spotlight on a range of issues.  Ministers Humphreys and Ring have failed to listen to their Oireachtas colleagues, who have been warning of the need for greater balanced regional development for years.  Maybe they will pay more attention to an advocate and expert who has been working in this area.  I will be raising this issue with the Ministers over the coming days”.