Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Eamon Scanlon has called on the government to up their game when it comes to support for rural Ireland as post office closures continue, main streets are emptying, farming communities are struggling, and rural planning stalls.

Speaking during a Dáil debate on rural and community affairs Deputy Scanlon commented, “There is major concern in rural Ireland that the effects of government policy are eroding the very being of rural life.

“Post Office closures are rife. I refer to the post office in Gurteen, County Sligo. It fulfilled all the criteria that An Post used for the sustainability of post offices, yet it was shut. That is wrong. Six or seven other post offices around that area closed and nobody could complain or say a word because the business was not there. However, there was business in Gurteen. There is a population of 512 and there were 1,300 transactions a week. Lessons must be learned from this unnecessary closure.

“I believe we should introduce some type of rural regeneration scheme, similar to the rural renewal scheme, whereby if people invest in a property, particularly if it is for rental, they will get a tax-free allowance for that investment. It would not cost the government a cent. The allowance would be in place over ten years. It worked previously, and I am sure it can work again.

“My party have put forward substantial policy ideas over the previous number of years to support rural Ireland, yet the government have turned their back on the western region,” concluded Deputy Scanlon.