Formally launching his General Election campaign, Deputy Denis Naughten outlined his commitment to the provision of local jobs and declaring a focus on health care issues pertinent to his constituency.
“In 2016 there was doom and gloom across rural Ireland and the feeling that this area of the country was forgotten about. The reason I went into Government after the General Election in 2016 was to ensure there was a voice at the Cabinet table for rural Ireland. In that regard, I was instrumental in establishing the new Department of Rural Affairs and €40m has come into this constituency as a direct result of interventions I directly made," Deputy Naughten reflected.
Noting the need to attract more industry to the constituency, Deputy Naughten referenced the number of cars parked daily at Ganly's roundabout in Athlone as workers commute to Dublin and Galway.
“We need to use the investment that is coming to rural Ireland to relocate jobs from other parts of the country. I will work and do my utmost to ensure the funding being spent is used to ensure many more young families will be able to work locally and won’t have to travel to our major cities for employment," the Deputy commented.
Deputy Naughten emphasised that health remained a big issue in the constituency and the issue continues to be one of his key priorities.
“I worked hard to secure €20m for a fifty bed ward block development at Portiuncula Hospital and before Easter Sunday ground will be broken for that new building.
“I also secured €750,000 a year to recruit sixteen staff in Roscommon Hospital from consultant posts through to physio and nursing staff who will work with older people across the constituency to prevent admissions to hospital. More people can now be treated in Roscommon as a result of the investment I secured for the hospital," Deputy Naughten continued.
The Deputy also highlighted the challenges being faced in agriculture and, in particular, the beef sector.
“Agriculture and farming are the backbone of this constituency. The vast majority of beef is being produced to the highest standards in the world but is then being minced and put into burgers and exported across Europe where it is competing on price with beef coming in from Brazil.
“What is needed is a distinctive brand for the beef sector, like the Kerrygold brand, so farmers get a fair price for the beef they produce to very high standards, they need fillet beef priced not minced beef prices," Deputy Naughten stressed.
Deputy Naughten also informed those present that National Broadband Ireland will start to survey homes in the constituency for the delivery of high speed fibre broadband.
"The initial offering will be 150mbps but homes can access up to 1000mbps with rural business being able to access 10,000mbps if needed from 2021.
“When I entered into Government, I made a commitment that I would do my utmost to bring high speed broadband to every single home in Ireland, forty communities across this constituency now have access to high speed broadband. There is no rural area anywhere in the world that has access to the speeds these communities have, but I won’t be happy until every single home in this constituency and across Ireland has access to high speed broadband," Deputy Naughten concluded.