SINN Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has new Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar must address the party’s Dublin-centric view of the country.
The Ireland-South MEP was speaking after census figures revealed that there are 79 employment blackspots across the state with more than half of them in the Ireland-South constituency.
Employment blackspots are defined as an area with at least 200 people in the labour force where the unemployment rate is 27% or higher.
“The very existence of these blackspots is a stark illustration of the Government’s utter failure in this department,” she said.
“Fine Gael claimed that they would ‘keep the recovery going’ but these figures expose the fact that the much vaunted recovery hasn’t even begun is huge swathes of this country. When Fine Gael talk about the recovery they are referring to the recovery being experienced by big businesses and the wealthy. This is not a recovery recognised by ordinary people faced with unemployment, a housing crisis and a health service in tatters.
“Leo Varadkar himself boasted that he would lead a party ‘for people who get up early in the morning,’ ignoring the fact that his Government’s policies were the reason many people had no reason to get up early. He then spent much of his tenure as Minister for Social Protection demonising these people and hounding them as ‘welfare cheats’ while at the same time his party gave enormous tax breaks to wealthy corporations.
“These figures also expose the Dublin-centric view of Fine Gael with 43, more than half of the 79 unemployment blackspots being in the Ireland-South constituency.
“Of the top five worst affected areas three are in Ireland-South with Limerick home to 18 blackspots alone.
“Waterford has nine and Cork city five with the rest in Clare, Wexford, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Kerry and Wicklow.
“This is no coincidence. It is the very obvious consequence of decades of under-investment in this region from both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail governments.
“These areas need a change of government, not a change of personality at the top of Fine Gael.”