Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says the Government needs to do more to address poverty in the Border region. He was commenting following the publication of CSO figures, which reveal that more than 790,000 people are living in poverty in Ireland – over 250,000 of those are children.
Deputy Brendan Smith explained, “While nationally the CSO figures point to slight improvements in deprivation rates, the situation in the Border area is very different. Poverty in this region is over 50% higher per capita compared to the Southern and Eastern region, mostly as a result of Fine Gael’s failure to create a balanced recovery.
“Over the past 6 years Fine Gael has presided over a two-tier recovery with new employment opportunities focussed heavily on Dublin and the commuter counties. Other areas, like here along the Border have been left behind – as is evidenced by this latest data from the CSO.
“While unemployment has eased, there is a marked contrast in the figures for the Greater Dublin Area, which stand at around 5-6% and the Border, which is up at 8%. The recovery is just not being felt by people living here. Fine Gael is simply not stepping up to the mark in creating balanced regional development, preferring instead to focus its energy on Dublin and large urban areas.
“Fianna Fáil wants to help rural and regional towns recover. We want to see more people employed locally and give small businesses the opportunity to grow. Rather than concentrating solely on FDI, we want to nurture local businesses and entrepreneurs, as these are the backbone of the economy and of vibrant communities.
“Through strategies such as the Empty Shops Initiative, combined with a revamp of the commercial rates system and new laws to encourage town centre development, we want to invest in our rural towns and villages and bring them back to the busy hubs they once were. Only when this happens will we see employment levels improve and poverty levels fall”.