June 8, 2022
Government must deliver on remote working for rural communities – Claire Kerrane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Rural Development, Claire Kerrane TD, has responded to the Government’s announcement of a series of initiatives on remote working.

Teachta Kerrane said that while the initiatives published today by Minister Humphreys are “broadly welcome”, the announcement further highlights the Government’s disjointed approach to remote working

Speaking this afternoon, Teachta Kerrane said:

“The suite of initiatives published today by the Minister for Rural and Community Development are welcome. Yet, the reality is that they remain far short of what is needed to properly deliver for remote workers, particularly those in rural areas.

“Providing 10,000 hot desk facilities free of charge to existing hub users and those availing of the facilities for the first time will attract users to their local hubs.

“However, adequate resources and mechanisms must also be in place to ensure people in rural communities can work remotely on a sustained basis.

This is especially salient if the Government is to revitalise our towns and villages whilst also providing adequate workspaces with high-speed broadband connectivity, as set out in the ‘Our Rural Future’ strategy.

“The Government’s own strategy for Rural Ireland, published last year, puts an emphasis on remote working and the roll-out of hubs across rural towns and villages. In fact, it could be said much of the plan is dependent on the success of remote working.

“Minister Humphrey’s announcement today highlights the Government’s disjointed approach to remote working.

“On one hand we have the Minister for Rural and Community Development trying to increase the number of people working remotely, while on the other we have the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment dampening those numbers by failing to bring forward a legal right to flexible working.

“A significant obstruction for workers taking up remote and hybrid working is the lack of a legal right to remote working.

“It would better serve rural communities if Government Ministers worked together to deliver joined-up remote working policies.

“If benefits and initiatives, like those being brought forward by Minister Humphreys, are not underpinned by the right to work remotely, the possibilities of new ways of working for those living in rural communities could be lost.

“We cannot lose the gains that have been made over the last two years which has in many cases allowed workers to remain in their local community, reducing commuting times, as well as benefiting the local economy and work/life balance.”

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