€30m rural investment plan not a full solution, admits Taoiseach
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has admitted that the six-year €30m investment package for Rural Ireland was not a full solution for all the problems afflicting communities, as farm leaders warned of concerns over a 'two- tier economy'.
Mr Kenny stressed the scheme designed to revitalise rural towns and villages to increase economic opportunities was just part of an overall package.
Eddie Punch, chair of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Association, warned Ireland was in "danger of becoming a city state where everything is sucked into Dublin".
Mr Punch called for broadband to be rolled out, describing €30m as a "drop in the ocean".
"The €30m for Cedra is only a start, obviously it is recognition of potential," Mr Kenny said at the Ploughing Championships.
"It is not going to sort out all of the problems by any means," he added.
The Irish Independent yesterday revealed that the plan is designed to channel funds via local authorities to fund the renovation of derelict buildings, the regeneration of vacant sites and upgrading street lighting.
However, the six-year plan was been met with a lukewarm response from Fine Gael TDs, who are concerned that it does not go nearly as far enough to revitalising communities.
"Of course it's welcome but it needs to be followed by a suite of additional measures aimed at reviving rural Ireland," Kerry TD Brendan Griffin said.
Mayo deputy Michelle Mulherin said the plan needs to be accompanied by tax incentives for first-time buyers and owner occupiers who agree to refurbish run down buildings and vacant offices.
She said she has secured agreement from Finance Minister Michael Noonan to carry out a feasibility study into the matter.
Another Fine Gael TD said that the rural initiative was "badly thought out" and looked like something "just announced for the sake of saying something".