Outgoing Fine Gael/Labour Coalition ‘disempowered’ rural communities.
Sligo News File Online.
The prospective main opposition party Sinn Fein has again hit out at the failure of the outgoing Fine Gael/Labour government to extend high-speed broadband to the countryside.
Party TD Carol Nolan said it was “unacceptable for the ongoing
Government to talk about delays at this point when the people of rural Ireland had waited long enough for access to quality, high-speed internet access,” a development which would open up communities and business opportunities.
She said, “Under the Fine Gael/ Labour Government, local communities have been disempowered. Infrastructure has deteriorated as a result of severe cuts to regional and local budgets; affecting roads, broadband delivery and, most noticeably in recent times, flood protection.”
Sinn Fein, she said, “wants to make rural Ireland a sustainable place to live and work, where the quality of life is matched by the quality of public services; a place where young educated graduates have the opportunity to stay and build their future and a place that welcomes back emigrants, including those forced to leave over recent years.
“We will use the budget room available over the next five years to invest heavily in capital projects, to deliver tens of thousands of jobs and to fill infrastructural needs in water, housing, schools, health, broadband and transport. Our current spending will also create jobs in frontline services and act as a stimulus for job creation in the private sector.”
She said Sinn Fein will create a digital hub in Galway City through the provision of sufficient broadband levels and IDA/government incentives.
“This hub will become an economic driver in the West and could contribute to rebalancing economic regional economic development.
“It is imperative that we open up rural Ireland to the benefits that something as simple as quality, high-speed internet access can provide.
“While it may not be a panacea for the neglect of successive governments, it will at least give our communities and local businesses a fighting chance.”
A Deal on the formation of government has meanwhile been agreed with Fianna Fail undertaking to support a Fine Gael-led administration and promising to block any attempts by the opposition to derail the arrangement for the foreseeable future.
A further indication of the extent to which Fianna Fail propose to back Fine Gael is also to be seen in their recent comments on water charges where Fianna Fail has argued that those who have not paid bills must be pursued for payment as required by the laws enacted by the outgoing government.
Fianna Fail was the first to insist on the introduction of water charges when, in government, they entered an agreement with the Troika to both impose charges on all domestic users and establish Irish Water, a national utility they are now saying is not fit for purpose. The party also agreed to institute the widely criticised unfair and unjust property tax on the homes of families.