Tuesday 16 July 2019

Rural Wexford under attack claims FF

Cllr John Fleming
Cllr John Fleming
Cllr Michael Whelan

David Looby

Around forty people attended a meeting called Protecting Rural Ireland at the Horse & Hound in Ballinaboola.

Organised by Cathaoirleach of New Ross Municipal District Cllr John Fleming and Cllr Michael Whelan, the 'Hands Off Our Village' meeting invited debate on post office closures throughout the county, the lack of broadband in rural communities, the emergence of solar farm planning applications and school closures, among other issues affecting rural areas.

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on communications, the environment and natural resources Timmy Dooley was the guest speaker at the event, the latest organised by Fianna Fáil councillors on local issues.

Cllr Fleming introduced the speakers and highlighted the need for a stronger visible presence of gardaí in villages. He also spoke about the lack of infrastructure in rural areas and on planning issues affecting rural communities.

Cllr Whelan said even though Wexford County Council are working in conjunction with a private developer to build an advance factory in New Ross, there will be little to attract potential employees to live in villages surrounding the town when post offices and shops are closing due to a lack of an adequate business plan for the former and the lack of footfall for the latter. Cllr Whelan said the lack of sewerage infrastructure is another issue.

Mr Dooley spoke about how business has fallen by 70 per cent in rural post offices over recent years, adding that the Government needs to provide supports to postmasters and postmistresses who carry out numerous services for their customers, including helping them to fill out forms.

Foulksmills postmistress Caroline Foxe gave an emotional speech about the tough decision she faced in closing the doors of her branch next month.

John Joyce, a security business owner based in Castleboro, Clonroche, said the broadband service stops half way down his lane, and some of the speakers also highlighted the poor broadband service to rural parts of the New Ross district. Cllr Lisa McDonald spoke about coming from a rural background. She said she lives in the countryside, but is concerned by the way rural Ireland has been forgotten about by the Government.

Audience members sympathised with Ms Foxe on her difficult decision to close.

Cllr Whelan said he was happy with the contributions made from the audience members during a questions and answers session at the end of the night.

Gorey Guardian