Sinn Féin spokesperson on Rural Development Claire Kerrane TD has said Minister Heather Humphreys has serious questions to answer around funding allocations for rural investment.
Teachta Kerrane’s comments follow media reports today that 18% of additional Local Improvement Scheme funding by the Minister’s Department has been allocated to the Minister’s own constituency of Cavan-Monaghan without transparency around allocation reasoning.
Speaking today, the Roscommon-Galway TD said:
“Minister Humphreys has serious questions to answer about these funding allocations. The government has an obligation to be open and transparent about public money. The Minister must come forward and explain why these allocations were made and what criteria the decisions were based on.
“Funding allocations must be fair and evidence-based. For people to have confidence in these processes, there must be no doubts that the constituency ties of the Minister running the Department could influence funding allocations.
“Many people living in rural Ireland will be very concerned by these figures. For far too long, our rural communities have been failed by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments who have turned their backs on them and not delivered the funding and infrastructure they need. This frustration is deep and growing.
“This is felt particularly strongly in the West and North West which has been downgraded by the EU Commission to a ‘region in transition’ rather than a ‘developed region’ due in part to receiving the lowest level of regional and local roads spend.
“This entire region needs significant investment not just two counties. Many people in these counties will want to know why they were not prioritised for funding given this clear need and will struggle to understand why Cavan and Monaghan were deemed so much more in need.
“Before the Dáil ended for summer recess, I raised concerns with Minister Humphreys about this scheme as I was worried the scheme was severely underfunded to meet demand. Minister Humphreys couldn’t answer my questions about how many applications would be unable to progress due to a lack of funding. She needs to be much more upfront about what decisions her Department are making and why.
“I will continue to stand up for rural communities to ensure that they get the investment, funding and infrastructure they need. Rural communities can thrive if given the supports they deserve and should be entitled to.
“Rural Ireland has waited far too long already for fair treatment and must not be treated as an afterthought by this government any longer.”