Rural promises must be backed by money, says Ring
Minister Michael Ring has warned that the post-election pledge to revitalise rural Ireland will be meaningless unless it is matched by money in next month's Budget.
The Regional Development Minister says the Fine Gael-led Government must prove its credentials to residents outside the main urban centres.
He noted that there were 88 commitments relating to rural life in the Programme for Government, including support for the Leader and Clár schemes.
"You can give all the commitments in the world, but with commitment comes money. There no use in those promises unless there is money to rebalance the situation in rural Ireland," he told the Irish Independent.
Seamus Boland, CEO of Irish Rural Link, said that rural dwellers wanted their fair share from the €1bn available to the Government.
He also warned that the decisions the ministers take could negatively impact on the countryside, in particularly a proposed hike in the price of diesel.
"We've strongly come out against this nonsense of rising the price of diesel. Most people in rural areas use diesel cars. Raising diesel won't reduce emissions, it will just increase the cost of living," he said.
Mr Boland also called for the Farm Assist scheme, which is a means-tested payment for low-income farmers, to be "widened".
"Most farmers who depend on part-time jobs in the construction sector don't have that option now and many are on the verge of poverty. The farm assistance payment is a very hard one to qualify for," he said.
It comes as the Government prepares to announce another action plan for rural areas.
Minister Heather Humphreys has sought the input of TDs and senators for what she says will be an "overarching structure for the co-ordination and implementation of initiatives across Government which will benefit rural Ireland".