Sinn Féin senator accuses Government of ‘failing’ rural communities

This year’s Budget has very little to offer those living in rural and Gaeltacht communities and will do nothing to stem the decline in rural populations, Sen Trevor Ó Clochartaigh said this week.

The Connemara-based Sinn Féin senator, reacting to Tuesday’s Budget announcements, accused the Government of failing those in the Gaeltacht and rural communities.

“Although some changes to the agriculture budget to encourage young farmers to come in to the sector are welcome, we have seen no positive moves in relation to Farm Assist or to replace REPS payments,” he said. “We have seen nothing to reverse the decline in rural populations and putting an end to emigration.

“Nothing has been done to reverse the cuts to teachers in rural schools. The tax reliefs on water charges discriminate against people on group water schemes and those living in rural areas. The Irish language and Gaeltacht communities will be disappointed at virtually no increase in funding, in particular to support the implementation of the 20 year strategy for the Irish language.

“On top of this, people in peripheral areas in the west and northwest have lower incomes and will gain much less from the changes to the tax and USC regimes than others,” Sen Ó Clochartaigh added.

“Sinn Féin's alternative budget would have put more money in the pockets of these people, provided more funding to Gaeltacht and rural communities, and would have gone further to eliminate poverty and emigration which is the scourge of rural communities nationwide.”

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