Fianna Fáil spokesperson Brendan Smith has responded to the relaunch of Fine Gael’s lacklustre internet campaign telling voters what a great job the party is doing on rural issues.

Once again, the campaign tries to convince the Irish people that this Government is ‘standing up for rural Ireland’.  When it was first launched just a month ago, the party’s Agriculture spokesperson Éamon O’Cuív described the campaign as a ‘grotesque distortion of the facts’ and said that was insulting to people’s intelligence.

Today, Deputy Smith commented, “Fine Gael really are scraping the barrel with their decision to relaunch what was an unconvincing PR gimmick in the first place.  Rural communities know how this Government has behaved since it came into power over three years ago.  They abolished the Ministry of Rural Development, a Cabinet position which had been created by a previous Fianna Fáil led Government in 2002. As a member of the Cabinet the Minister was able to ensure that rural communities were seen as equals, and not second class citizens.

“This Government’s abysmal record on rural affairs is well known and no amount of expensive online propoganda is going to change that.  The FG / Labour Roll of Dishonour includes

– Dismantling LEADER companies, which brings much needed investment into rural communities

– Significant negative changes to the Farm Assist Scheme and the Rural Social Scheme, both of which were set up by the previous Government

– Increasing class sizes significantly in small rural national schools

– Closing rural Garda Stations and taking rural Gardaí from local communities

– Reducing funding for Údarás na Gaeltachta and abolished democratic elections to the Board of Údarás na Gaeltachta

– Abolishing the CLÁR programme that brought so much vital infrastructure to dispersed rural communities

– Severe reductions in funding for the Rural Road Network programme