Gov must provide ‘Rural Resettlement Incentives’ as remote working becomes the norm – Chris MacManus MEP

“Government must provide ‘Rural Resettlement Incentives’ as remote working becomes the norm” – Chris MacManus MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has called for the introduction of a rural resettlement scheme to encourage families to relocate to rural areas. The Midlands Northwest MEP argues that the growth in remote working provides an opportunity to attract younger families to rural Ireland and revive aging rural communities.
 
MacManus said:
 
“Preparing for Ireland’s changing demographics is critical to the future sustainability of rural communities. Census data tells us that Ireland has an increasingly urban population, with young people flocking to the cities and towns for education and job opportunities while the age profile of rural Ireland grows older. The effects of this outward migration have impacted heavily on many rural communities who have lost local businesses, Post Offices, Garda Stations, public transport and teachers from the local school.”
 
“We have seen an enormous shift towards remote working as a result of the pandemic and this will be helped by the rollout of the National Broadband Plan in the coming years. This means that people no longer need to live near their place of work which presents a significant opportunity to attract young families back to rural communities.”
 
MacManus insists there is an opportunity now which cannot be overlooked. “The Government must grasp this opportunity by actively encouraging and supporting those who wish to move to rural areas. The Government’s rural development plan announced earlier this year commits to examining incentives to encourage workers to relocate to rural areas.”
 
“As part of this commitment the Government should explore the introduction of a rural resettlement scheme which would support families in relocating. Such a scheme existed previously and was operated by Rural Resettlement Ireland, who successfully relocated 800 families from urban communities to rural Ireland during its 20 years in operation, until the discontinuation of Government funding in 2012 lead to its demise.”
 
“The new scheme could operate in a similar manner, helping families secure low interest mortgages, matching families with suitable accommodation and administering grants to incentivize relocation. Tax incentives for workers who relocate, and a marketing campaign could be introduced by Government to assist the scheme.”
 
“Rural communities who welcome new young families to the area would benefit significantly. Increased population helps protect vital services and makes communities more economically viable. In addition, a younger population helps to ensure that these communities will have a sustainable future. In a time like this where we are in the midst of a serious housing crisis, a move away from our cities for many would mean a real opportunity to find a new quality of life.”
 
The Sinn Féin MEP concluded, “This is a great opportunity. One that would benefit rural communities as a result of remote working.  The Government must take full advantage.” 

Government authorisation of €750bn EU borrowing without any public or Dáil debate ‘a concern’ – Chris MacManus MEP

Sinn Féin MEP and Member of the EU Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee Chris MacManus has said the decision by the government to sign off on €750bn of borrowing by the EU Commission should have only been taken after a full public and Dáil debate given the importance of the decision, which is known as the ‘Own Resources Decision’.
 
The Midlands Northwest MEP said:
 
“On the 12th May, without any public notice or announcement, the government signed off on facilitating the EU Commission borrowing €750bn to finance the EU Recovery Fund. This decision was notified to the EU Council by the Irish government offices in Brussels. This is an unprecedented commitment for the EU Commission to take on.”
 
“The fact that the decision was taken without the slightest effort at debate or scrutiny is a cause for concern and raises serious long-term questions for this State. “
 
“Sinn Féin support a stimulus plan to aid the EU Recovery but this rubber-stamping of an unprecedented borrowing facility for the EU Commission should not have passed without any debate or Dáil scrutiny.  €750bn can now be borrowed by Brussels but there is no clear indication how it will be repaid.”
 
“Will new EU taxes – which many in the EU want – like corporate tax contributions, environmental taxes and other taxes like a Digital Levy flowing directly into Brussels be used to repay the loans or will Member States have to repay with net contributors like Ireland paying more? These questions should have been answered before the government signed off on this decision.”
 
MacManus said such a major decision should be subject to thorough domestic debate. “Twenty Member States’ parliaments have to approve such a decision, with only seven states including Ireland seemingly allowing a government to rubber-stamp with no debate or scrutiny. The minimum scrutiny should have been a full Dáil debate and vote. In Finland a passionate national debate over the issue occurred. For decades to come the State might be paying for this decision or alternatively face EU taxes which the government says it is opposed to.”
 
The Sinn Féin MEP concluded, “Taking this decision on the quiet serves the Irish people poorly. This is no way to build public confidence in the EU recovery fund or to encourage solidarity.” 

Sinn Féin call for IT training to be offered to parents of students in remote education

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has said that the government must recognise the important role being played by parents with regards to distance learning. 
 
MacManus highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen many parents and children using technologies for the first time, in order to access education, and said that supports must be in place for parents who may not have a high level of computer skills.
 
The Midlands Northwest MEP said:
 
“Recently we voted on a non-legislative report on digital education policy. The report highlighted many of the disparities between the 27 EU states and within the countries themselves in terms of digital skills. Worryingly, the report highlighted that 42 per cent of EU citizens still lack even basic digital skills.”
 
“We need our government to recognise the increasingly important role parents and families are playing when it comes to education and distance learning. This should be done by both facilitating access to new technologies, but also support and training for teachers, learners and parents, in how to use these technologies. These supports are vital to ensure no learners are disadvantaged as we progress further into the age of online education.”

Cllr Pearse McGeough Welcomes Motion on Irish Language

Councillor Pearse McGeough has welcomed the passing of a Council Motion last month that recognised the great work done by groups in County Louth in the promotion of the Irish language.

The Sinn Féin Councillor also wanted to mark the Irish Langauge festival of Seachtain na Gaeilge which pressed ahead with events from the beginning of the month (albeit in a different format than usual) despite the challenges thrown up by Covid restrictions.

Cllr McGeough said “Seachtain na Gaeilge is the biggest Irish Language Festival in the calendar and I proposed that Louth County Council mark this and invite Louth’s Conradh na Gaeilge to talk to members in the chamber and advise on how we can better support them in their vital work.”

The motion inspired enthusiastic debate in the chamber with Cross-Party support and even suggestions that Foras na Gaeilge could be involved in the presentation. (Foras na Gaeilge is a public body that is tasked with the promotion of the Irish language throughout the island.)

Cllr McGeough said “When you look at what is happening in the 6 counties, where our language is being used as a political football and we are having to fight for not only its promotion but also its survival, you see people coming onto the streets screaming for equal language rights. Yet here in the 26 counties where we have no real opposition to the promotion of our language we can sometimes be guilty of a complacency or a lack of appreciation for our native tongue.

“That is why I think we need to support groups like Conradh na Gaeilge, to ask them how we can help them in their work while at the same time we keep our own traditions and native tongue relevant and hopefully popular with upcoming generations.”

The full text of the motion was as follows:

Molaim go dtugann an Chomhairle seo sonrú ar an fhéile Gaeilge; Seachtain na Gaeilge, a cuireadh tús leis ar 1 Márta. Molaim go dtugann siad sonrú ar an obair iontach ar siúl ag grúpaí fá Chontae Lú leis an teanga a choinneáil beo. Is í Seachtain na Gaeilge an Fhéile Gaeilge is mó sa bhliain.  Molaim go dtugann muid cuireadh ar Chonradh na Gaeilge teacht isteach agus cur i láthair a dhéanamh don Chomhairle seo nuair a bheas sé sábhailte acu a dhéanamh, agus na bearta a féidir leis an Chomhairle seo a dhéanamh a mhíniú.

 I propose that this council mark the Irish Language Festival of Seachtain na Gaeilge, which began March 1st and that they acknowledge the fantastic work being done by groups in County Louth to keep the language alive. Seachtain na Gaeilge is the biggest Irish Language Festival in the calendar and I propose that Louth County Council mark this and invite Conradh na Gaeilge to present to this council, at a future date when restrictions allow, an outline of how an Ghaeilge could be better supported in County Louth.

 

 

 

Cllr Pearse McGeough: Time for Action over Dunleer Bank Closure

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has said the time has come for action over the Bank of Ireland’s decision to close 103 branches in Ireland including the one in Dunleer.

He was speaking after he hosted an online public meeting with Imelda Munster TD.

Cllr McGeough said “the meeting was well attended and included Independent Cllr Hugh Conlon, members of the business community and the Community Sector as well as other customers of the bank. The debate was lively and everyone had their say and we now have a plan to forge ahead to oppose the closure.”

At the meeting, Cllr McGeough pointed out that although Sinn Fein was holding a series of these meetings across the island, this was NOT a party political issue and indeed in other counties concerned Fianna Fáil Cllrs and independents had attended the meetings.

According to Cllr McGeough, “we were unable to do anything when Ulster Bank made the decision to pull out all their branches but it’s different with Bank of Ireland as they were bailed out to the tune of €4.7 billion and the Minister for Finance, on behalf of the Irish people holds a 14% shareholding in the Bank so that is the leverage we have and we need to focus on that leverage.”

He also pointed out that “Instead of having 103 small campaigns we must consolidate our efforts into a bigger campaign. There is no guarantee that we can save all 103 branches but perhaps we can save some. Pearse Doherty TD is leading the campaign but is depending on local people to get behind it. Louth will not be found wanting.”

When asked about how people can help, Cllr McGeough said “there were a number of good ideas that came from the public meeting and the time has come to forge ahead with them.

  • Email the Minister of finance to get a moratorium on the decision until the end of 2022 minister@finance.gov.ie
  • Sign the uplift petition – (consolidation of signatures rather than individual petitions throughout the country)

Petition: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/keep-our-bank-branch-open?bucket&source=facebook-share-button&time=1614717394&utm_campaign&utm_medium=myuplift&utm_source=fb-share&share=535c9548-89b7-46d0-aade-3feac6e5e09f&fbclid=IwAR33YPOSpdL6925tWaTT84_qqW-5WjI_wLhISOHAxnBfhBf1U2kBgJSMwGE

  • Send emails to your TDs – Imelda Munster TD, Ruairí Ó Murchú TD & Ged Nash TD are on record opposing the closure. We have 5 TDs in Louth:

Imelda.Munster@Oireachtas.ie

Ruairi.omurchu@oireachtas.ie

gerald.nash@oireachtas.ie

Fergus.odowd@oireachtas.ie

Peter.fitzpatrick@oireachtas.ie

  • Contact Dunleer branch telling them how valuable the branch is to the area (Telephone 041 6851108, David Duffy is the manager)
  • Banks rely on customer loyalty and traditionally people remain with the same bank regardless of what happens – tell Bank of Ireland, If you leave Dunleer, we are leaving you!

A moratorium on the decision until the end of 2022 will allow us to get through this Pandemic and give us time to make a case for Dunleer branch to remain open.