"The letter published today from the Chairman of the Western Development Commission Paddy McGuinness to the WDC and Minister Michael Ring asking him not to re-appoint him to the position of Chairman of the body citing accusations that the Government is completely failing in its commitment to rural and regional development is vindication of the stance that I and others have been taking on a consistent basis for the past number of years" That's the view of Independent TD for Roscommon- Galway Michael Fitzmaurice .
"The letter from Paddy McGuinness is further evidence that the Government is only paying lip service to the development and re-generation of rural Ireland and that it is not serious when it comes to addressing the real problems that exist. When I voiced those views in the recet past, I was slated as being too negative. In his letter to the Minister and the WDC Paddy McGuinness says he does not want to be appointed again because"..................
'I believe strongly that there is absolutely no commitment at either political or administrative level to balanced regional development nor is there any worthwhile plan to redress rural decline''
"Those are his words and not mine" said Deputy Fitzmaurice.
"In his letter Paddy McGuinness also points out that the WDC was left without any board at all for three months in 2014 and that there is no board in place since the 20th February 2017. The CEO's position is vacant for almost three years, and a commitment made in the programme for Government of an enhanced role for the WDC has never been followed up on" he said.
"The lack of interest shown by the Government and the Department in rural decline and regional development is further emphasised when Paddy McGuinness goes on to say in his letter"................
'the only contacts with me from the parent Department were on matters relating to governance… never an engagement on what the organisation was doing or whether it could achieve more'
"This is a shocking indictment of Government policy and a clear indication that they are not interested in rural development in the West of Ireland" he said.
"In addition there are proposals coming up at EU level on land use which wil have fundemental implications for the West of Ireland and I will be highlighting those at the time. In the meantime I am calling on all Independent TD's and Senators in the Western Region to stand up and be counted on this matter. I will be raising it in the Dail next week and I am joining in the calls for Minister Ring to make a statement on this most serious matter. Either we are serious about rural decline and regeneration of the regions or we are not. On the evidence of what we have seen so far there is no real commitment, only plenty of waffle and empty promises" he concluded.