IFA President Eddie Downey has said that the delivery of a balanced economic recovery across the country will require the Government to introduce targeted policies and increase investment in the rural economy.
Speaking to journalists at the RDS Dublin Horse Show today (Thurs) Mr. Downey said, “The most recent CSO figures show contrasting unemployment rates across the country, ranging from 8.8% in Dublin to 12 and 13% in the West, Midlands and South-East regions. This highlights the need for Government to introduce more targeted measures, to ensure the economic recovery is better balanced across the regions. Investment in rural enterprises outside of the main urban areas must be a strategic focus of Government”.
Eddie Downey said “As a priority Government must deliver on its funding commitment for farm schemes under the Rural Development Programme in this year’s budget, to underpin the growth and exports targets of Food Wise 2025”.
The IFA President also called on Government to introduce a Charter for Rural Ireland to drive economic recovery in all parts of the country. This Charter must include the following measures:
- Delivery on the commitment to provide a high quality rural fibre broadband network across rural Ireland, to support homes and businesses, job creation, investment and rural development.
- Introduction of tax-credits to encourage employers to take on apprentices and create sustainable employment in rural communities.
- Many of these communities have been badly impacted by emigration and have experienced high levels of youth unemployment.
- Incentives such as double tax relief on rental expenditure and concessions on commercial rates should be introduced to encourage businesses to locate in villages and town centres which have been decimated during the recession.
In addition the following measures should be introduced for the 440,000 households that live and work in rural Ireland and for those who holiday in or simply enjoy the countryside:
- Increased and measurable targets for policing hours and presence of mobile units in rural areas by An Garda Síochána, to reduce crime and create a greater sense of security in the countryside.
- An increased and ring-fenced annual rural roads budget from the Department of Transport, allocated to local authorities as part of a planned repair and maintenance programme.
- An increase in the number of voluntary rural walk schemes to support economic development and tourism in rural areas.
- A package of measures from the Department of Transport to facilitate the development of proposed Greenway projects, while protecting farmers’ rights.
- Increased fines and greater enforcement by local authorities to tackle the scourge of littering by passing motorists and users of the countryside.
IFA Deputy President and Countryside Chairman Tim O’Leary added, “This Rural Charter contains important policy proposals which bring an overall focus to the challenges faced by rural communities. IFA will work with Government to deliver the policy priorities in this Charter”.