Deputy Marc MacSharry.
Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo - Leitrim, Marc MacSharry, says he has serious concerns with the Government’s lack of strategic vision to regenerate the North West region to perform to its potential following years of neglect.
Deputy MacSharry says that the region is suffering as a result of the Government’s repeated failures in rural policy adding: "It is clear that Fine Gael has no long term vision for rural communities.
“We have known for a number of years since the Census for 2006-2011 that the north west of the country has suffered badly from people moving away from our counties in pursuit of jobs and broader opportunities.
“The Government's forthcoming planning framework 'Ireland 2040' aims to achieve more balanced development of the country. Indications however, are that it is set to preserve the status quo and exacerbate the unsustainable growth in the Capital.
“Sligo has the highest commercial vacancy rate in the country while the surrounding counties of the North West area are also among the highest in the country. Innovative policy and an increase to resources are crucial to stopping a further rise in number of vacant commercial premises.
He added, “Despite millions being pumped into the development and promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way, which is very positive many local businesses have felt little tangible benefit.
“The marketing campaign has been an excellent initiative in ways, however improvements to our transport infrastructure are crucial to give the regions industrial sector a chance to compete for investment stemming from the campaign.
"Motorway access from both Dublin and Galway, linking the North West and onto the North is urgently required. Incredibly despite Government rhetoric, such plans are not even at an embryonic stage of planning.
“The North West region requires resources and investment in enabling infrastructure to achieve its full potential and prosper. Businesses need access to high quality services to enable job creation; international standard broadband and an expansive transport network to connect towns and villages
“There has been a disproportionate focus on attracting investment into Dublin in recent years and I believe that the budgets allocated to the IDA and Enterprise Ireland must reflect a greater commitment to the North West region. We know they are among the best in the world at what we do but Government policy has limited their tangible success to the eastern conurbation and Cork.
“The near weekly PR and Ministerial photo calls do little or nothing to offset the palpable neglect and lack of strategic resource provision endured by Sligo and the entire the North West.
“If we are serious about opening our eyes to recognise the potential of our nation as a whole then radical change in current policy is required to incentivise business,” he concluded.