Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, to clarify what rural projects will be being scaled back or delayed following reports in today’s Irish Independent that his department will be asked to slash its budget in order for government to make up the €100 million funding gap that has emerged following the enormous cost over-runs at the National Children’s Hospital. Deputy McGrath went on to say that this would represent a double betrayal for the children of rural Ireland in light of the well documented challenges that already exist for rural families in terms of accessing the site of the NCH at St. James Hospital:
“It is absolutely unacceptable for the government to even contemplate raiding the budget for projects in rural Ireland in order to cover up its disastrous oversight of the NCH.
We are hearing this morning that funds announced as part of Project Ireland 2040, including the Rural Development Fund, will also be temporarily delayed, in addition to cuts in housing and education.
It is also being reported that the extra €9m allocated to the OPW for flood schemes this year is also likely to be reduced by €3m.
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Rural Ireland has taken hit after hit in the last six years; not least in the area of health where it remains nearly impossible for us to retain or recruit rural GP’s.
Proportionally speaking, rural Ireland is still playing catch up in terms of the huge economic imbalance between it and the city and county of Dublin where over 50% of Ireland’s GDP – the total value of everything produced in the country – is generated.
This is despite the fact that an estimated 60% of the population live outside Dublin County.
These facts must be taken into consideration before the government takes the budgetary knife to badly needed projects in rural Ireland,” concluded Deputy McGrath.