Fine Gael General Election candidate for Clare, Joe Carey, has today (Wednesday) slammed Fianna Fáil for its track record on delivering for rural Ireland, saying Fine Gael’s ambitious plan will continue to see jobs created and vibrant, well-connected rural communities built.
In 2002 Fianna Fáil launched the National Spatial Strategy (NSS) aimed at achieving “a better balance of social, economic and physical development across Ireland”. In 2010, a Government review found that the NSS failed in terms of population growth, assisting balanced regional development, and that government policy did not support the Strategy.
Fine Gael on the other hand, has worked tirelessly while in Government to undo the harm Fianna Fáil wreaked on rural Ireland during its time in office. The difference between the two speaks volumes:
- On Rural Crime: Fianna Fáil closed Templemore Garda College with a subsequent increase in rural crime. Fine Gael reopened it in 2014 and over 3,000 Gardaí have been recruited since.
- On the Rural Economy: The rural economy was devastated after Fianna Fáil blew up our economy in order to win a third term in Government. The result was peak unemployment at 16%. It currently stands at 4.8% following Fine Gael’s management of the economy and focus on job creation.
- On Soaring Emigration: The resultant soaring emigration had a greater effect on rural parts of Ireland than on urban areas. Over one in four households in the most rural areas have had at least one family member emigrate since 2006. Under Fine Gael, we have seen a return to net migration; that is, there are more people returning to Ireland than are leaving.
- On the Closure of the Sports Capital Programme: Fianna Fáil cancelled the Sports Capital Programme. Fine Gael restored it.
- On the Closure of the CLÁR Programme: Fianna Fáil closed the CLÁR Programme (which provides for small scale infrastructural projects in disadvantaged rural areas). Fine Gael reopened it in 2016.
Joe Carey said: “Fine Gael is today setting out our plan for rural Ireland, which is ambitious and deliverable. Among the measures being proposed are an initiative to build on the success of the Gathering, called the Year of the Invitation; a commitment to bring broadband to every home, farm and business in the country; we are investing €1billion in job creation in rural areas; and we are putting rural communities at the heart of decisions about future development.
“Fianna Fáil’s credentials, when it comes to rural Ireland, are on the floor. Fine Gael has a plan and the people to deliver so that we can build a future that the people of rural Ireland, and all people, can look forward to.”