Independent TD Mattie McGrath has cautiously welcomed the publication of a new Government Action Plan for Rural Ireland. Deputy McGrath was speaking ahead of the launch of the ‘Realising our Rural Potential’ Report and by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Minister for Rural Affairs Heather Humphrey’s later today:
“From what I have seen it looks like the government has created yet another set of goals for rural Ireland that is more about box ticking exercises than actually doing anything.
They have allocated €60 million to bring about this vision which is absolutely paltry when one considers todays report in The Journal.ie that the government has spent almost €30 million on prisoners pocket money since 2009. No one is saying prisoners should not have some discretionary income but it puts the funding being announced today in to some kind of perspective.
Nearly all the reported recommendations are the same or similar to those contained in the report of The Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) that was established in 2012, and which was itself simply a follow on from the vision outlined in the White Paper on Rural Development in 1999.
So, we have been here many times before. We have seen Taoisigh and Ministers come and go and we have heard about how committed they are to rejuvenating rural Ireland.
Unfortunately it has turned out to be little more than spin while the institutions of rural Ireland like the farm and family home and the post office network remain under attack.
CEDRA had over 34 detailed recommendations and it too spoke about ‘realising Rural Ireland’s Potential’. We will have to see if today’s Report will amount to anything more than this after the hype around it die’s down,” concluded Deputy McGrath.