Thursday, 12 May 2022
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Garret Ahearn (Fine Gael)
Last weekend, we in the Fine Gael Party had a very successful meeting in Tullamore in respect of agriculture and rural Ireland. Hundreds of people were there and wanted to give their views on what we, as a Government, could do to support them. It was a listening exercise for us. As a party, we have always prided ourselves on representing rural Ireland and farmers. Many people from my county were there. In that context, could I ask that we have a debate on rural Ireland and farming because we are the party that created the Department of Rural and Community Development under the then Minister, Deputy Ring. The current Minister is Deputy Humphreys. When we look to support rural Ireland, it is through that Department as well as the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Both can help to enhance regions like mine in Tipperary. We have been fortunate to have many schemes, such at the town and village renewal scheme, the rural regeneration scheme and a new scheme for the improvement and development of community halls. Could we have a debate with the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Humphreys, on the schemes that are available to rural communities such as those in my county of Tipperary and what there can be done in the future? Representatives from a number of villages and communities have already come to me to ask if they can make applications in respect of the community hall scheme. There is €15 million available. That money will be gobbled up very quickly in view of the number of villages that are interested in the scheme. In future, we will need to put more money into it.
Rural Ireland needs to be supported. It has been supported by Fine Gael in the past. It needs to be in the future. In every single recession we have had in this country, it has been rural Ireland and agriculture that have helped us to recover. It was no different ten years ago in the context of the most recent recession. I ask that we get a chance before the recess in July to have the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, come before the House to outline her plans to get as much money as possible in the budget for rural Ireland.