Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture & Rural Development Claire Kerrane TD has said that the Taoiseach’s dismissive response to the realities facing rural Ireland and fears for its future are way out of touch.
Macra na Feirme members from all across Ireland are currently taking part in a 14-hour walk from Athy to Government Buildings to highlight their fears for the future of rural Ireland.
Teachta Kerrane raised the issue with the Taoiseach in the Dáil today.
Speaking afterwards, Teachta Kerrane said:
“Yesterday, young people from all around Ireland in Macra na Feirme set off from Athy to walk the 14 hours to Government Buildings.
“They are taking a stand for a future in rural Ireland. For many of us who were born and reared in rural Ireland we see our future no-where else. In fact, there is no-where we would rather live.
“Macra are raising eight main issues, including a lack of affordable housing, sparse healthcare services, lack of public transport, a lack of planning for rural communities informed by rural people and imposition of quotas on Young Farmers when it comes to supports.
“Today in the Dáil, I raised this with the Taoiseach and told him that young people are sending a clear message to his Government – we want a future in rural Ireland and they have to act to make that future possible.
“In response, the Taoiseach told me that rural Ireland was actually doing alright which he based on the fact that populations have increased in rural Counties.
“This is well and good however, the services have not followed. We have not seen an increase in affordable housing, none in most Counties in fact, no increase in healthcare and public transport remains non-existent in many parts.
“Macra members aren’t walking 14 hours for the good of their health. This attitude from the Taoiseach that ‘everything is rosy in rural Ireland’ is patronising and dismissive. It is also inaccurate, as people from rural communities have outlined time and time again as they call for government support to tackle the issues affecting them.
“Frankly, the Taoiseach’s response is stunning given the reality in rural communities, where so many want to live but resources and services to enable people to live and build a life continue to fall short. The government has a responsibility to take the concerns of people in rural Ireland seriously, yet we are still waiting for them to step up to the plate and deliver the real change that is needed.”