Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the Greens and three Regional Independent TDs voted against the Rural Independent Group’s motion for “supporting rural Ireland” last night (Wednesday, May 12th).
The leader of the Rural Independent Group, Deputy Mattie Mc Grath, said the “detailed and reasonable motion provided the opportunity for all TDs to decide if they are on the side of rural Ireland or if they are going to tow the party line and cast a vote that keeps them in favour with their parties hierarchy”.
The Rural Independent Group motion sought to:
- Fast track the roll-out of the National Broadband Programme across rural Ireland, with an end of 2022 deadline;
- Make access to high-speed broadband a human right now;
- Prioritise infrastructural development in the regions and rural areas by expediating and prioritised its delivery to improve quality of life and allow for balanced regional job creation;
- Review the planning restrictions on rural, one-off housing contained within the National Planning Framework;
- Establish an expert independent unit or agency (with expertise in procurement, project management, value for money delivery and on-time target delivery) to plan, oversee and deliver the much-needed large scale infrastructural projects across the regions; and,
- To increase funding to at least five billion euro under the NDP rural regeneration and development fund.
‘They chose to turn their backs on rural Ireland’
Reflecting on the outcome, McGrath continued: “The choice was simple, but the decision by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael rural TDs to vote against this motion is illuminating to every rural resident. Their vote demonstrates a classic example of ongoing double-speak.”
He said the Rural Independent’s motion gave the government a choice. “They chose to stand up for the vested interests and turn their backs on rural Ireland.”
“In simple terms, this means delayed broadband delivery, a complete lack of accountability on whether funding to regional and rural areas are prioritised and ongoing sub-standard and mismanagement of any infrastructure roll-out to rural areas.”
“It also means the government will instead continue to spin broken promises and empty statements at rural communities, instead of actually doing something tangible.”
“In fact, rather than this government supporting rural communities, they block genuine attempts such as this motion’s objectives and instigate destructive policies such as the new Climate Action Bill, which will cost jobs, push up prices, prohibit rural housing and hand power making over to a new high-powered elite and unelected committee.”
“Our campaign, on behalf of rural Ireland, will continue. We will take on the vested interests and this government at every turn. Such underhanded behaviour by this government cannot be tolerated in any functioning democracy,” concluded Deputy Mc Grath.