Fianna Fáil candidate for Meath East Cllr Deirdre Geraghty-Smith has said it is inexcusable that County Meath remains bottom on the pile for local government funding, despite the county having three sitting Fine Gael Ministers.
“Meath County Council has been putting up with years of underfunding despite our burgeoning population and growing gaps in local services,” said Cllr Geraghty-Smith.
“The funding that Meath received in the latest budget amounted to €599.40 per head compared the national average of €978.91 per head. The council do their absolute best to make the most of the resources available, but the pot is far too small.
“Meath has been let down badly by nine years of Fine Gael in government, even with three sitting Fine Gael Ministers in Meath East and West. Fine Gael’s approach has been to systematically undermine local democracy and whittle away the financial resources and powers of Meath County Council and other local authorities. They have got into the habit of blaming local authorities for issues and gaps in services when in reality, the problem lies at the heart of government.
“This needs to be radically turned around by the next government. Meath is one of the fastest growing counties in Ireland. There is no justification for our funding per head to be nearly half the national average.
“Fianna Fáil has revealed extensive plans to support the towns and villages of Co Meath through a significant boost in funding, increased powers, and new initiatives to revitalise local communities. We believe the abolition of Town Councils was wrong and robbed large towns like Ashbourne of their local representation. Fianna Fáil will establish town councils in every town with a population of 7,500 or more.
“We will increase funding for the Town and Village Renewal scheme to €31m per year nationally to help communities to generate and implement their own ideas about what is best for their town. We will also establish a Community Investment Fund so that communities can borrow to buy their own vital local assets.
“The loss of assets like halls, swimming pools, pitches, stadiums and pubs come as a huge blow to communities and they should be given the chance to buy and operate their assets as a co-operative, rather than permanently losing them.
“We will also increase direct funding for sports clubs, for building new playgrounds and for boosting female participation in sports. We will work to protect grass roots soccer and ensure that development goes directly to support local clubs.”