Local election candidate Finbarr Harrington (Ind) believes the decline in rural Ireland has reached a crisis point that needs to be dealt with at both a local and national level.
‘Many of our young people have left due to lack of employment,’ Harrington noted when speaking to The Southern Star.
Harrington feels the way to regenerate West Cork is to incentivise companies to start up here.
‘This can be done by tax breaks from national government or via reduced rates through the County Council.’
Hailing from the Beara Peninsula, Harrington has keen interest in the fishing industry and is frustrated by the two-tier system.
‘It’s unfair the way our boats are treated compared to how foreign boats are treated,’ the Beara man said.
A recent video he posted to social media highlighting his concerns quickly went viral clocking over 400k views on Facebook.
‘The video made the problem clear by showing foreign boats landing their hauls directly into waiting trucks with no questions asked while, the one Irish boat, had 3 fishery officers scrutinising their catch’.
Farming isn’t paying
Harrington, who runs a small farm, also has grave concerns for the farming sector which he says is: ‘Going through one of the most difficult periods in the history of the state.’
‘Most farming is not paying due to soaring costs and the leverage factories have on prices,’ he said.
‘We have to work to get the farmer paid fairly for his produce. If we don’t, farming is not going to be sustainable even though it’s a wonderful way of life and part of our culture. We need to protect it from dying out’.
Traffic in Castletownbere has been a hot button topic in recent months with a proposed new transport plan causing controversy amongst locals.
'Businesses, residents and retailers in the town all have huge concerns about the design of the plan,’ said Harrington who serves as chairman of the local action group.
His belief is that the proposed public realm for the middle of the square would be: ‘like taking the heart out of the town.’
Harrington is currently the chairman of the West Cork Leader Action Group.
‘I was very lucky to be chairman of such a fantastic committee. In the last few years, we’ve delivered a lot of funding to projects across West Cork.’
Despite the leader fund being reduced, Harrington says: ‘we sourced other funding and delivered the Community Enhancement Program and the Community Development Initiative which provided around a million euro to the benefit of West Cork’.
Independent candidate Finbarr Harrington is aiming to secure his first term in office when polls open for the local elections on May 24