People Before Profit would look to reinvigorate rural Ireland with a massive jobs and investment programme.
- Renewable energy is ideally suited to the west of Ireland, which could become a hub for wind and wave technology. This would need support from local communities, however, achieved through proper consultation and economic benefits flowing to the local community.
- Tourism can be another significant employer with increased investment in culture and heritage facilities.
- A generic pharmaceutical industry is also a possibility given the expertise that has already been developed in this area.
- We would increase the forestry cover from 11-25% creating much needed employment in less dense population centers and explore the possibility of hemp production – provided it had no significant negative effects for the soil etc.
- Alongside this, PBP would invest heavily in infrastructure such as a western rail corridor to improve the possibility of attracting investment into the regions. A high speed rail service joining cities and towns from Cork to Donegal would create a major spurt of initial employment and make it more likely that industries that rely on exports could be developed in the BME region – particularly if Knock Airport is developed to carry freight.
REINVIGORATE LOCAL SERVICES
If people feel secure in their access to basic services and decent welfare they are more likely to take risks that could create new forms of employment. Instead of closing hospital A&E services, rural schools and libraries, PBP would make a social commitment to rebuild social infrastructure in anticipation of creating new forms of employment. This would include things like a mobile doctor’s service to ensure that rural people can be seen in an emergency; a rural bus company that would do school runs and act as a taxi service for rural people without cars; making all current buses wheelchair friendly; cameras on motorways to allow for better surveillance of criminal gangs moving into rural areas.
A SOCIAL HUB IN EVERY TOWN
Libraries are closing in rural Ireland as are rural post offices. PBP would create a local social center in every town that would house a combination of citizen’s advice, post office, library, tourist information, sports facilities, and arts and crafts. This would make the center more viable and provide a space for people in rural communities to come together. We would also look at new forms of micro credit such as the Spakasse model in Germany.
ROLLOUT RURAL BROADBAND
The selloff of Eircom has been a disaster for Irish broadband services. Instead of the state developing a proper infrastructure for the whole of the country, it has ceded this task to the private sector. Profit driven companies will not make the kinds of investment needed to bring broadband beyond housing estates in rural Ireland. PBP proposes a major state led investment programme to bring broadband into every home. This will then provide the connectivity needed to carry out productive activity in the area. In our pre-budget submission for 2019 PBP ring-fenced €500 million for this project.