Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that the publication of Pobal’s Deprivation index is a wake up call on the threat to rural Ireland by government policies.
He added that the report makes a mockery of the Government’s supposed commitment to rural areas.
Matt Carthy said:
“Pobal’s Deprivation Index is a wake up call on the economic crisis facing rural Ireland.
The report makes clear that small rural towns in Ireland have been hit hardest by the recession and that communities that are furthest from major towns are poorer.
“Rural towns with populations of under 5,000 are suffering severe neglect and are not seeing any evidence of economic recovery.
“The economic policies of both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, based as they are on facilitating massive tax avoidance strategies have been further exposed with the publication of this report.
“Whether it’s the ludicrous claim of a 26% rise in GDP figures or Leo Varadkar telling struggling families that a €300,000 house is “affordable”, this Government is seriously out of touch with reality and inflated GDP figures are affecting the ability of Ireland to access much needed EU funds.
“Meanwhile, the closure of rural post offices, Garda stations, shops and businesses, as well as the quickening decline of farming incomes and haemorrhaging of young people from rural areas have been highlighted by Sinn Féin and others for years.
“There is a deeply worrying and growing income gap with rural communities being treated as second class citizens in terms of services.
“Radical rural reform policies are urgently needed but there is no sign that the Government is listening. The fact that the Government has no Rural Strategy underlines its lack of commitment.
“Government approach to rural Ireland must change. Genuine and radical rural and regional strategies are now required more than ever.