Monday 24 April 2017

'We do not get enough visits here from the IDA'

Out for the count: Joe O'Reilly at the Cavan/Monaghan count centre on Sunday afternoon. Photo: Lorraine Teevan
Out for the count: Joe O'Reilly at the Cavan/Monaghan count centre on Sunday afternoon. Photo: Lorraine Teevan
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

In the Cavan-Monaghan constituency along the Border, there are small signs of an ­economic upturn, but the recovery is patchy. While towns that are inside the ­Dublin commuter belt have fared ­reasonably well, the problems linger as you go further west.

Fine Gael's seat tally was cut from three to one, but the party could console itself that Minister Heather Humphreys topped the poll.

As he lost his seat, Cavan-based Fine Gael candidate Joe O'Reilly was reluctant to play the blame game about his party's "Keep the recovery going" slogan, but he says it may have caused problems.

"It's easy to be wise after the event. Very few of us spotted the problem early on, but we're not marketing people. There is a level of recovery down here, but it needed to be nuanced.

"We have been through a recession as deep as the depression in America. There is a residual collateral damage from that.

"Maybe our messaging didn't take that into account. It's a more modest recovery here than in Dublin. Many of the problems of the recession remain.

"Emigration is a problem. You have parents communicating by Skype with their children who are working abroad."

In this area, the big winners were Fianna Fáil, who enjoyed a spectacular comeback at the election. A Sinn Féin surge failed to materialise.

Niamh Smyth surprised pundits with her victory for FF, as she joined former Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith in the Dáil.

Smyth, who is chair of the FF Women's Network, will be part of the bright new intake on the Fianna Fáil benches. During the campaign, she raised issues that are familiar ones across rural Ireland: the absence of good broadband; the condition of the roads; and job creation.

At the Monaghan end of the constituency, there have been a number of factory closures in recent years.

Only last year, there was devastation in the area at the news that the Bose manufacturing plant was closing with the loss of 140 jobs.

Fianna Fáil county councillor PJ O'Hanlon said the water charges and the state of the roads were big issues in the election.

"There needs to be greater efforts to attract industry to this area. We do not get enough visits here from the IDA."

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