The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association has welcomed the establishment of a new Government Department and Minister to focus on Community and Rural Affairs. Spokesperson for Rural Affairs Brendan O’Malley outlined how a department with sole responsibility for Community and Rural Affairs is something the INHFA has been seeking for over 12 months now.
”In order to have an impact, and to reverse the decline of Rural Ireland, it is imperative that this Department be properly resourced and have influence in key areas presently covered by other Departments” stated Mr O’Malley. Of particular importance he added “is the immediate roll-out of High Speed Broadband and ensuring the road and rail infrastructure is improved, to meet the needs of businesses and multinationals presently in or looking to relocate to rural Ireland.”
He also pointed to other key issues that this Department should address, with those being;
• Reversal of cutbacks which have led to the closure Garda stations, post offices, etc
• Ensuring any rural regeneration program takes into consideration and focuses on smaller areas of population such as villages and townlands, as well as rural towns.
• A simplification of the bureaucracy that seems to be presently strangling the Leader Programme, which, with a very small budget has had a very positive impact in Rural Ireland.
• An introduction of tax incentives to drive the tourism sector and help build on many of the present positive initiatives such as the Wild Atlantic Way, Ancient East and Lakelands and Inland Waterways.
He concluded by wishing new Minister Michael Ring every success in his role and looks forward to working with him in helping to solve the many issues presently affecting Rural Ireland.