“Serious concerns” about rural policy

John McLaughlin, Donegal County Council (right) with Martin McDermott and Rena Donaghey at Friday night's event in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel, Buncrana.
John McLaughlin, Donegal County Council (right) with Martin McDermott and Rena Donaghey at Friday night's event in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel, Buncrana.

An emergency motion calling for a special meeting to discuss the government’s new ‘Rural Ireland’ policy has been passed by Donegal County Council.

Councillor Rena Donaghey brought the motion to council last Monday, in response to the government plan devised to “revitalise” rural Ireland, which she said she had “serious concerns about”.

“Our Government needs to bring forward a tangible plan with ring-fenced funding.

“The Minister needs to introduce a supplementary estimate for 2017 in this regard,” she said.

Colr Donaghey said she was “appalled” that the plan only targets rural and regional towns, as “people living in small villages and in the countryside have effectively been told that they have to fend for themselves.”

“This is appalling considering over 1.7m people live in aggregated rural areas as classified by the CSO,” she said.

Colr Donaghey said Fianna Fáil is committed to defending local people’s right to build and own their own home in their own community.

“We must strengthen the Planning and Development Act to protect this core right and place an onus on local authorities to provide a clear, transparent route for local people from a community to build and own there.

“This Government is rehashing existing schemes and programmes.

“The commitment to provide investment of up to €50m for job creation across the regions rehashes what was announced in the Programme for Government last year and what about the CEDRA (Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas) report launched in 2012.”

Fellow Colr Martin McDermott echoed her sentiments, and said the policy on Rural Ireland was “mind-boggling.”

“It clearly states that they want to push to rejuvenate towns and villages and bring people back in, but they’re looking to do away with one-off houses in rural areas too,” he said.

“In five to 10 years there will be no rural schools. Almost 78 percent of Ireland is rural, but when it comes to Donegal, we are 100 percent rural.

“We need to come together and discuss this,” he said.