Cork East TD Kevin O’Keeffe has said that the government is not doing enough to revitalise rural towns and villages, and that additional investment schemes are required to kick start rural Ireland.

Last month’s Government announce of their Action Plan on Rural Ireland contained some welcome initiatives but it’s clear to me that they missed the boat when it comes to small towns and villages.

“There is a glaring need to support property owners in these locations to regenerate their properties to help make them available for residential and commercial use.

“In a recent Parliamentary Reply from the Minister for Finance, I was informed that the Home Renovation Incentive provides for an income tax credit for homeowners or landlords of residential property, who carry out repair, renovation or improvement works on their property.

“The maximum value of this tax relief is €4035 based on max repair costs of €30,000 (incl. VAT) which is often too low for the amount of work that is required to make vacant building either habitable or commercially viable.

“I’m disappointed that the Minister’s reply didn’t include any additional plans for supporting these property owners.

“Unless we make it easier for property owners to rehabilitate their buildings, they will struggle to pay local authority rates, and will forced to hike up rents thereby putting pressure on renters or potential business owners looking for a space to work from.

“Irish towns are struggling. There may be a boom in Dublin, but it hasn’t been felt in places like Conh, Mallow, Youghal, Mitchelstown or Fermoy.

“I will be working hard with my Fianna Fáil colleagues in advance of this year’s Budget to develop new, innovative proposals to stimulate the regeneration of Ireland’s small towns and villages.

“The last six years have seen Fine Gael preside over a two-tier recovery that has led to the near demise of rural Ireland. Enough is enough,” concluded O’Keeffe.