Labour unveils its plan for rural Ireland

It aims to bring safety, transport and investment to rural communities

A Labour Minister of State says that the demise of rural Ireland has been wrongly predicted many times.

Junior Minister with Special Responsibility for Rural Economic Development Ann Phelan was speaking as Labour launched their economic plan for rural Ireland. 

It includes more spend on transport infrastructure, a scheme to re-open closed pubs and shops in small towns, and the abolition of school transport charges.

Phelan says that there is still life in the rural economy.

Envisioned in the plan is a €200m investment in regional growth centres to boost employment and economic development.

The party also promises the extension of free GP care and to increase in gardaí in rural communities.

Tánaiste Joan Burton said: “I know the devastating effect that the economic collapse inflicted on rural Ireland. 
 
“There are still vacant shops and hotels in many areas, serving as a stark reminder of the vacuum left by Fianna Fail’s reckless economic management.
 
"But over the last five years, Labour has made a steady start in ending the crisis and beginning to fix many of the problems."
 
Reacting to Labour's proposals, Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesperson Éamon Ó Cuív said it amounted to an “insult to people living in rural areas.”
 
He derided the lack of specifics and said the prioritising of population growth centres will leave small towns struggling.
 
“Labour claims it will invest capital spending in “key growth centres” where there is major population growth potential, said Ó Cuív.
 
"Considering that the CSO is predicting that the Greater Dublin Area will account for 65% of total population growth by 2031, this commitment rings hollow.
 
"Rural parishes will continue to be left behind as secondary priority as currently the case."