Government’s treatment of rural Ireland “shameful”

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has said the Government must be mindful of rural Ireland when it comes to Budget 2018.

The Ireland South MEP was speaking after Sinn Féin unveiled their proposals for rural and farming communities ahead of their Alternative Budget launch on Tuesday.

“The way this Government has treated rural Ireland has been nothing short of shameful,” she said.

“The changes to LEADER funding have been an absolute disaster, vital services such as post offices, Garda stations and public transport have been cut and in May Fine Gael joined with Fianna Fail to show their utter contempt for rural Ireland when they voted down our Rural Equality Bill.

“Next month’s budget is an opportunity to undo some of the damage they have done.

“Sinn Féin has launched a series of practical, affordable proposals that would help stall the decline of rural Ireland.

“They include a €10 million Brexit Support Fund, designed to assist small businesses and farmers in assessing and preparing themselves for Brexit.

“An extra €35m for flood defences, new measures to promote farm safety and protect the family farm and greater investment in rural development and tourism projects such as the Walks Scheme.

“Not only is it possible and affordable to maintain rural post offices, libraries, Garda stations and bus and rail routes, if we do not wish to see the death of rural Ireland it is absolutely essential.

“In Europe we will be fighting to maintain the current rate of CAP and if it is necessary for the Irish Government to make a greater contribution to the EU to protect or even increase Basic Payments to Irish farmers, then hat is what they must do.

“Thus far the Government’s plan for rural Ireland, if it can be said to even have one, is to let it rot. Sinn Féin has a vision for sustainable, thriving, rural communities.”