Rural Action Plan appears to be a rehash of previous announcements with zero focus on infrastructure

Fianna Fáil Deputy for Mayo Lisa Chambers has welcomed the Government’s Rural Action Plan with caution.

Speaking on the matter, Deputy Chambers stated “I welcome the plan but I want to send a message to government that if you are genuinely serious about achieving this plan for rural Ireland then you need to invest in the necessary infrastructure which this government has failed to do to date.”

“The devil is in the detail, the Government is stating it is going to create 135,000 jobs in rural Ireland by 2020 but we have no clear details as to how they actually plan to do this. There is mention of indigenous business creating these jobs so then government are relying on business to do the heavy lifting. There is also a commitment to increase FDI by up to 40% into rural Ireland, the use of the words ‘up to’ would lead me to think we will never reach 40% at all. We have no idea where this figure of 40% was pulled out of or how exactly the government plan to achieve this. We know that two of the key barriers to attracting investment in any form are connectivity in terms of mobile phone coverage and broadband, and infrastructure in terms of road and rail links. When you consider the lack of investment in these areas in County Mayo one has to ask the question how is the government planning on implementing their plan without these key infrastructures? ” she said.

“We have seen no progress on the Western Rail Corridor in Mayo, no additional rail services, bus services are under threat from a recent department commissioned report, the N5 is not starting construction until 2021, broadband and mobile phone services are third world and knock airport is being starved of funding. This is just a short list of the key infrastructure projects that we absolutely need in Mayo if we want to have any chance of creating jobs and attracting investment into our county.” Continues Chambers

“We have had major jobs announcement in Mayo in the recent past, need I remind people of Opensparks and Northgate. Both companies were supposed to provide up to 600 jobs between them which never materialised. So Mayo people are wise to any such jobs announcements, particularly those that appear prematurely announced and are lacking in detail.” She said

“I think the plan is quite aspirational and there are some very good ideas, particularly around the establishment of a grant to regenerate town and village centres and encouraging families to renovate and occupy town centre properties. This would do wonders for towns such as Claremorris and Castlebar. However we need to see real commitment from government in the areas of infrastructure and transport; the foundation to the plan is key.” Says Chambers