“Rural Ireland is not getting its fair share of new jobs and that needs to change”, says Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Fine Gael TD for Laois/Offaly and Chairperson of the Oireachtas Jobs Committee.
“Though jobs are being created in all parts of the country, the distribution of these positions undoubtedly favours bigger towns and cities, especially Dublin and Cork. Today the live register nationally stands at 10.5%, the number of people signing on is dropping in all eight regions of the country but still rural Ireland is falling behind the bigger population centres.
“To be honest I am fed up of listening to variations of rural Ireland’s obituary from the opposition benches. We need to give the people of rural Ireland more credit than that and to recognise that people in regional areas are starting businesses, they are working to promote their local areas and they are making progress but they need more help.
“Regional job creation is a key focus of Action Plan for Jobs 2015. The focus now is to ensure that every community in the country feels the benefits of the recovery.
“The Regional Enterprise Strategy, beginning in the Midlands, will be rolled out across the country to tap into the strengths and potential of local areas. This is an urgent project and one that requires all the power of Government, local authorities and rural communities.
“As part of the Regional Enterprise Strategy Minister Richard Bruton and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, will be working with local authorities and businesses to provide much needed support. A €25 million initiative fund has been earmarked to promote this strategy and I expect to see further jobs growth in rural Ireland in the coming months.
“All the indicators are good, over 141,000 people came off the live register in 2014; unemployment has fallen for 31 months in a row and the tide of emigration has ebbed, but it is not time for the Government to slap ourselves on the back.
“The Government has committed to creating 40,000 new jobs in 2015 and to achieving full employment by 2018, two years ahead of schedule. While this is a huge challenge, it is achievable but rural Ireland must benefit from future growth.”