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Collins accuses other constituency TDs of not caring about rural issues

May 29th, 2021 3:00 PM

By Siobhan Cronin

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A LOCAL TD has lashed out at the government for voting against a motion ‘supporting rural Ireland’ under the Ireland 2040 plan.

Speaking after last week’s Dáil vote, the assistant leader of the Rural Independent Group, Deputy Michael Collins said that Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the Greens and three regional independent TDs voted against the motion.

‘Our detailed and reasonable motion, provided the opportunity for all TDs to decide if they are on the side of rural Ireland or if they are going to tow the party line, and cast a vote that keeps them in favour with their parties hierarchy,’ said Deputy Collins. 

‘The choice was simple, but the decision by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael rural TDs to vote against this motion is illuminating to every rural resident. Their vote demonstrates a classic example of ongoing double speak.’

Deputy Collins, claimed the result of the vote was a ‘massive nail in the coffin tonight for our young people who wanted to get planning in rural communities’.

Earlier, the West Cork TD lashed out at the three parties in government after, he claimed, their TDs had ‘failed to show up’ for an important debate about the future of rural Ireland and said local West Cork TDs had not contributed in the earlier debate, either.

Deputy Michael Collins (Ind) said the private members’ motion by the Rural Independent Group sought to hold the government to account on a number of rural issues.

He explained that his political grouping was hoping to amend the Project Ireland 2040 because ‘if it is allowed to pass unchallenged it could mean that young people will not be able to secure once-off planning on family holdings.’

The TD complained: ‘We often hear Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green TDs pontificate about their interest and support for rural communities. 

‘However, when it mattered, they failed to show up and make a concrete contribution on the floor of the Dáil.’

Fianna Fáil’s Christopher O’Sullivan replied to the criticism by pointing out that the government time allocation for a private members’ motion is almost always entirely taken up by the minister of the relevant portfolio.

‘In order to get speaking time on such a motion,’ he added, ‘you’d have to take some of the minister’s time, which is highly unusual.

‘I always have, and always will, fight for rural Ireland,’ he added. ‘The plan itself, he added, ‘is testament to the fact we’re serious about rural Ireland.’

Social Democrat TD Holly Cairns also rebuffed Deputy Collins’s comments saying her colleague Jennifer Whitmore (SD) spoke on the Rural Independent Group’s motion.

She said her colleague highlighted the need for developing working hubs with access to quality broadband, as well as the need to ‘climate-proof and equality-proof’ the plan.

But after last Wednesday night’s vote, Deputy Collins said the government chose to stand up for ‘vested interests’ and turn their backs on rural Ireland.

‘In simple terms, this means delayed broadband delivery, a complete lack of accountability on whether funding to regional and rural areas is prioritised and ongoing sub-standard and mismanagement of any infrastructure roll-out to rural areas.’

He added: ‘It also means the government will instead continue to spin broken promises and empty statements at rural communities, instead of actually doing something tangible.’

‘In fact, rather than this government supporting rural communities, they block genuine attempts such as this motion’s objectives and instigate destructive policies such as the new Carbon Action Bill, which will cost jobs, push up prices, prohibit rural housing and hand power making over to a new high-powered elite and unelected committee.’

Deputy Collins said the government was ‘hell bent’ on what he described as ‘the green agenda’.

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