Sinn Féin TD for Laois-Offaly and Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Brian Stanley has published Sinn Féin’s proposals for ‘Regenerating the Economy in Laois and Offaly’, which outline an ambitious plan to create a sustainable, vibrant economy in the Midlands.
Speaking today, he said:
“For too long, consecutive governments have underinvested in the Midlands and have failed to plan for its future.
“We have the highest rates of deprivation in Ireland (20% compared to 13% in Dublin, CSO) and an average disposable income that is 15% lower than the national average. It is essential we put in place a long-term integrated strategy for the Midlands to address these inequalities.
“Sinn Féin has today launched our economic strategy paper which outlines how we will regenerate Laois and Offaly and place the Midlands at the heart of Ireland’s Just Transition. We also outline the investment which is needed in key infrastructure to support and encourage indigenous economic development in the region.
“It is essential that we make the most of the infrastructure which the State currently owns and operates. Both Bord na Móna and the ESB are State owned enterprises with a successful track record. These enterprises must be supported by a major stimulus package to facilitate their transition towards renewable energy and sustainable, good quality employment.
“We want to see the Midlands become a key hub for the development of biogas, biomass and solar industries. To support this Sinn Féin is proposing that the Mount Lucas Training Centre be expanded to become the national centre for apprenticeships in renewable energy, high energy efficiency construction and the retrofitting of homes and businesses.
“Laois and Offaly must also be supported by investment in key infrastructure to facilitate economic investment.
“If we are serious about developing new businesses and keeping our best talent then greater investment in Local Link transport between villages and high-speed broadband provision are essential components.
“The economic history of the Midlands has been one of under development and it is time for that to change. Sinn Féin has a strategy for the Midlands to ensure the region has a sustainable, secure future which will provide communities with the opportunity to develop. Now is the time to implement it.”