In reply to criticism about recent comments that I made about decline in rural areas, I want to state that talking to small business people all over rural Ireland the major problems that they are facing include poor broadband service, high rates, difficulties with access to credit, and the lack of development of things like sewage services for new business ventures.
The IDA and Enterprise Ireland will have to formulate realistic plans to create jobs in rural Ireland. The latest figures tell us that 60% of our population now live in our five main city areas namely Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway. The banks, who were bailed out by the taxpayer, have now jumped ship from our smaller towns and villages and that has seen a lot of business move to the bigger towns and cities.
Since getting elected I have brought as much focus to the problems facing rural Ireland as I could and I will continue to do so. I will continue to highlight the needs of rural communities in the areas that I have mentioned above so that the people of rural Ireland can have access to the same facilities as the people who live in the bigger towns and cities in terms of broadband etc. I am preparing a comprehensive document on the revival of rural Ireland and it will address areas of infrastructure deficiencies we have in broadband and other important issues, with the local credit unions playing a major role in that revival.
Everyone acknowledges the great work that is being carried out in every local community by the various voluntary groups around the country and that work is so important to rural life. The key is that we all have to work together to achieve our goals.
Whether we like it or not a whole generation have left this country in recent years because of policies that have been skewed towards the development of our bigger towns and cities to the detriment of rural Ireland. We need to formulate a realistic plan for rural Ireland as soon as possible; because if we don’t, the flight to the bigger towns and cities will continue and remember that situation is causing problems for the bigger urban areas too.
I am not into political mud slinging. I will leave that to the people who destroyed the country in the recent past. When I am asked to comment by the media on an issue I do so. I cannot control what the media say or how it is presented after that.