“Countless absurd gaps” in services in rural communities


There are “countless absurd gaps” in services in rural communities, said Sinn Féin TD Claire Kerrane.

The spokesperson for the party for rural development believes that in terms of public transport in particular, these communities have experienced “absolute insufficiency”.

Last week, a new plan was unveiled by the government and National Transport Ireland (NTA) to increase public transport connectivity between towns, villages, surrounding villages and rural areas.

The MP called for this plan “Connecting Ireland” to “listen to the needs of rural communities”.

Figures from this week’s Central Statistical Office show that if the fuel tax for road transport was increased by 10%, then nearly 70% of rural households would continue to use their vehicles to the same extent because they ” have no alternative means of transport “.

Failure to “invest properly in connectivity”

Speaking after a briefing on Connecting Ireland’s proposals this week, MP Kerrane said successive governments “have not invested properly in connectivity” for decades.

“Increased and frequent transport services have been announced as part of Connecting Ireland, but the proof will be in the implementation,” said Roscommon-Galway TD.

“In my own constituency of Roscommon-Galway, we are seeing services being cut rather than expanding. I know there are similar experiences in other rural areas.

“There are also significant gaps in services, particularly in the west of Ireland.”

The MP said in her constituency there is a “situation” where those who live in Moylough and Mountbellew in County Galway “with appointments at the nearby Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe are forced to take a bus to town. Galway City, then take another Galway City bus to Ballinasloe ‘.

“Absurd gaps” in services in rural areas

“There are countless examples of absurd shortcomings like this in rural communities,” MP Kerrane continued.

“For years rural public transport approaches have been inconsistent, underfunded and stripped down, while instead increased investment and better infrastructure were needed.

“Providing adequate transport links is so important for all parts of rural communities. This is particularly true for older people, people with disabilities and people who depend on public transport to get to their place of work or to access health care and services.

“The consultation process will also be fundamental to ensuring that the implementation of Connecting Ireland is adequate and responsive to the needs of rural areas and their communities. ”

Those in rural communities “must be listened to”

The MP said she understood that the deployment should start in 2022, “which leaves little time for consultation.”

“Ensuring that the consultation process is coherent, accessible and inclusive is really important,” she added.

“I encourage the NTA to reach out to all facets of rural communities, including engagement with local organizations representing older people, people with disabilities and Irish Rural Link.

“We need to focus on the fundamental flaws in our transport links to support workers and families in their day-to-day lives.

“Those who live in these rural communities must be heard as part of the development of this plan. ”

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