No green shoots for Longford - only dark clouds

Cllr Joe Flaherty responds to Sunday's 'Week in Politics' report aired on RTE

Joe Flaherty

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No green shoots for Longford - only dark clouds

Joe Flaherty on RTE's Week in Politics last Sunday

Following Sunday’s ‘The Week in Politics’ we asked Longford-based general election candidates Cllr Micheál Carrigy (Fine Gael) and Cllr Joe Flaherty (Fianna Fáil) for their reaction and views to the programme. Cllr Flaherty responded with the below:

The scars of central government's neglect are acutely visible across urban and rural Longford.

otwithstanding the Council's efforts and Center Parcs' arrival, there is a fear that we are taking one step forward but two steps back.

It’s the doughnut effect. We're marooned in the Midlands, whilst a Dublin centered and obsessed government drives policies that enable the large metropolitan centres, either side of us, to thrive. Empty shop units abound and we see the worry etched in business owners' faces.

Every week another business closes and the most recent closures included Le Wine O Clock.

Urzula Harley returned from France to open a wine bar but closed after a few months.

Award winning artisan butcher, Terry McLoughlin, closed in Lanesboro two weeks ago.

The weekend saw the closure of Ella's Closet boutique whilst Earl St publican, Eamon Farrell, closed after forty years.

I am working with several businesses experiencing serious difficulties and they don't think they'll get past Patrick's Day.

That's not a recovery – that's a crisis.

The finger of blame goes back to central government. During the boom, we were dependent on construction with one in five jobs construction linked.

The crash decimated us – more so than most other counties.

The government didn't launch a raft of training solutions or a jobs action plan. Instead the problem festered and today Longford has the highest unemployment rate nationally at 19.6%.

It is harrowing to hear our county described as one of the most marginalised and neglected in the country.

We need to see better infrastructure to support existing and new communities living here.

Failure to put in place such infrastructure will lead to serious social and economic problems in the years ahead.

We have one of Ireland's largest un-opened shopping centres.

We have one of the first army barracks to close and with no sign of redevelopment, the barracks is a reminder of this government's apathy towards Longford. Real and meaningful future development for Longford town hinges on a successful vision for the barracks site.

We looked to Dublin for leadership but we haven't seen any.

There are no green shoots for Longford - only dark clouds. Brexit looms and the concerns are stark.

An IBEC survey shows Longford has the fourth highest numbers of jobs exposed to the Brexit fallout, amounting to 24% of the entire workforce.

The government rightly prioritised the diplomatic challenge of Brexit but are failing to work with businesses starring Brexit in the face.

They are obsessed with churning out sound bytes instead of working with these businesses and helping them prepare for the consequences of Brexit.

Longford is clearly on the periphery to this government's vision.

The National Framework Plan sets out a vision to 2040. It will stifle development here and cost Longford jobs whilst fortifying larger urban centres.

There's a stark reality manifesting itself in a deep sense of foreboding for Longford people.

We see a government poised to turn out the lights on our county.

But Longford people won't stand for it.

They want their voice back and Sunday's 'Week in Politics' report articulated this growing anger. We want our voice heard again in Dáil Eireann.

WATCH : 'Has the economic recovery reached the only county in Ireland without a TD of its own?'  HERE

Also read:

Government knows Longford is in need of investment:

Cllr Micheál Carrigy responds to Sunday's 'Week in Politics' report aired on RTE