Economic recovery must be spread to all sectors and regions
Speaking at the launch of ‘Standing Up for Rural Ireland’, Labour’s plan for balanced regional development.
I’m delighted to be here in Athy this morning for the launch of “Standing up for Rural Ireland”, our plan for balanced regional development.
And I’m delighted to be with three of our fine Labour Party candidates – Mark Wall, John Whelan and Minister Ann Phelan.
Just this week, the European Commission said Ireland’s recovery was “broad-based and coupled with strong job creation”.
This is vitally important to me, vitally important to the Labour Party.
Because we have said time and time again that economic recovery must be spread to all sectors and all regions.
And that it must be accompanied by social recovery, meaning every household and every community, benefits.
Here in Athy, there have been a number of very positive recent developments, from new jobs to the new 50-bed unit in St Vincent’s.
And these positive developments are being mirrored – slowly but surely – across the country.
I know that many families, many communities are still suffering.
The recovery hasn’t happened fast enough for them, or spread out to their areas.
But we’re working hard to make sure that happens.
Labour has rebuilt the Irish economy and we will implement the right policies to ensure that the recovery is sustained, robust – and reflected across all regions.
Over the next five years, our mission is to sustain and spread the recovery and create an economy and a society that works for working people.
A recovery that increases their living standards through sustained wage increases, targeted and responsible tax reductions and investment in the services families and communities need.
We will use our economic strength and stability to continue to build a decent society.
Our plan here today has a number of key elements, a flavour of which Ann has already given.
Our vision is to build thriving hubs of economic activity across every region.
So we will invest €200m in key growth regional centres.
These will be areas with major potential for jobs and population growth.
We will also increase investment in key infrastructure, such as transport links and broadband, so that every home and business is digitally connected and empowered.
And we will make sure that communities are safer by increasing the number of gardai protecting our communities.
Friends, I know the devastating effect that the economic collapse inflicted on rural Ireland.
The impact from the collapse of the construction sector was particularly devastating, with many more jobs also lost in the retail and tourism sectors.
There are still vacant shops and hotels in many areas, serving as a stark reminder of the vacuum left by Fianna Fail’s reckless economic management.
But over the last five years, Labour has made a steady start in ending the crisis and beginning to fix many of the problems.
And we are determined to continue that work – rejuvenating towns and villages, the lifeblood of rural Ireland.