Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Planning and Local Government Barry Cowen TD has called on the Government to fast-track its long-promised plan to revive rural Ireland.

Deputy Cowen made the comments following reports that the Government is currently considering a number of options to incentivise people to relocate to small towns and rural areas.

Deputy Cowen commented, “Rural Ireland has suffered profoundly since Fine Gael came to Government. Investment and job creation opportunities have been disproportionately focused on large urban areas. The result of this has been the eroding of community life in rural areas as people are forced to relocate to support their families. This in turn has put enormous pressure on housing in areas such as Dublin and Cork.

“Fianna Fáil has long recognised the need to revitalise rural Ireland. This formed a key part of our General Election manifesto and it is something which we focused on during the talks to facilitate a minority Government. The Confidence and Supply Arrangement contains a clear commitment to develop new Community Development Schemes for rural areas. It’s important that this is acted on without delay.

“The Government needs to make it attractive for people to live in small towns and villages. There needs to be investment in GP services, rural schools, broadband and other key services. The IDA also needs to step up its efforts to attract jobs to rural areas. This is the only way that we can revitalise our towns and villages in the long run.

“Fine Gael have been great to talk the talk when it comes to supporting rural Ireland, but the time for meaningful action is long-overdue,” concluded Deputy Cowen.