Deputy Kathleen Funchion
Kilkenny TD Kathleen Funchion has criticised the government’s 'Our Rural Future' policy paper for lacking a timeline for delivery and failing to focus beyond remote working in order to achieve the ambitious change necessary.
She has said that there is an absence of concrete measures to create jobs and deliver investment in infrastructure in rural towns in Kilkenny.
“Rural Ireland has been neglected by government after government for decades and it is time that our towns, villages and rural communities are finally listened to instead of being ignored.
“The government has now launched the ‘Our Rural Future’ policy paper, which they have lauded as a plan to save rural Ireland.
“However, it is nothing but a rehash of previous announcements and symbolic of the lack of vision the government has for our rural communities. There is an absence of concrete measures to create badly needed jobs in our rural towns and villages, and deliver balanced regional investment in infrastructure.
“It is deeply disappointing that the report fails to give timelines. No new funding is contained in this; instead almost all the figures announced in this document are a re-hash of previous announcements.
“Communities need more than vague promises, they need to see real action and delivery. I will be pressing the government on this to ensure that concrete timelines for delivery as well as increased funding are put in place.
“The policy focuses on remote working but we need to look beyond just remote working opportunities. In order to achieve long term, sustainable change beyond the pandemic, we need to see jobs based in our towns, villages and rural communities as well as remote working options.
“People must be at the heart of any plans and making sure that people living in rural communities can have the same opportunities to prosper is a key part of that.
“The plan acknowledges the need for the provision of public services, but the recent closure of what may be the only bank branch in many rural areas is a stark contrast to this ambition. It is important that we support access to services, investing in infrastructure and the regeneration of rural towns and villages, to ensure rural towns and villages are vibrant and thriving places to live.
“Finally, it is crucial that any plans for rural and regional areas are supported by the people living in these communities- not merely handed down from Dublin. All of these parts must work in partnership to ensure that rural communities can flourish.
“It’s time to stand up for our towns, villages and rural communities to ensure people get the resources, funding and opportunities they should be entitled to. Sinn Féin will continue to give rural communities a voice and hold the Government to account on this.”
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