“The key election issue in many of the constituencies outside our cities will be the need for people to be able to work locally rather than having to commute to our congested cities for work,” says Denis Naughten TD.
“This was clearly highlighted in last week’s Enterprise Ireland 2019 report which showed that across exporting Irish companies in Roscommon, East Galway, Longford, Westmeath and Offaly approximately 5 jobs were lost every week. Yet there was jobs growth in our cities,” said Denis Naughten.
“While the economy is now close to full employment many people living in our smaller towns, villages and rural areas still leave their homes early in the morning, sit in traffic and arrive home late in the evening because they are unable to work locally.
“While there has been significant investment in infrastructure particularly in our towns and rural areas over the last four years, in sport, recreation and tourism facilities, digital hubs, broadband and enterprise centres, we must now convert this into local work opportunities, by relocating existing jobs from our cities as well as creating new jobs.
“And this is not just in new technology, it’s also about supporting and growing our farming and food sectors with the focus on making our family farms financially viable by improving prices and supports.
“Back in 2016 many parts of rural Ireland were forgotten; there was little Government investment and communities were dying.
“As the only rural Independent Minister in Cabinet I was committed to starting to turn this around with significant investment in infrastructure across rural Ireland, which has been driven by my insistence that the new rural affairs department be supported.
“I was instrumental in the establishment & design of the Rural & Urban Regeneration and Development Funds, the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme and increased investment in the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, all of which are now delivering vital new infrastructure across our smaller towns and rural areas.
“But this investment now needs to be converted into local jobs right across Ireland which will not only help to support our local towns, schools & villages but it will also take huge pressure off our congested cities, like Dublin & Galway, which are struggling to cope,” concluded Denis Naughten.