The rural economy stands on the brink of complete destruction should the recommendations of the McCarthy Report (An Bord Snip Nua) ever be executed. That’s the view of Waterford County Councillor Joe Conway.
Cllr Conway said the hits that could be exacted upon County Waterford’s economy, and the inevitable aftershock that would be delivered for the city, could prove catastrophic.
“An Bord Snip Nua is a fatuous phrase meant to indicate that there will be merely a little cut here, a little cut there, all quite reasonable really,” he said. “But the truth of the matter is at variance with this.”
Cllr Conway added: “The proposed cuts are totally unprecedented at €5.3 billion, with the more vulnerable and blameless set to sustain much of the hit. And having studied the report, there is no concealing the fearsome and unwarranted anti-rural bias throughout many of the proposed cuts.”
In what he described as a “rural hit-list,” Cllr Conway listed many of the recommendations suggested by Colm McCarthy. These include:
* Rural schools by virtue of amalgamation
* A €500 charge for school transport
* The abolition of the Department of Community and Gaeltacht Affairs
* The closure of 115 out of 150 Agriculture/Teagasc Centres
* The ending of the subsidy for Regional Airports,
* The abolition of Local Councils (in contravention of Article 28 of the Constitution) and
* The closure of rural Garda Stations, to list but a few.
“I am certain that there is waste and duplication in the public service,” said Cllr Conway.
“It is made up of organisations, and organizations per se are imperfect. But there must be a fairer criterion than to judge them other than to see if the impact is on the hapless people outside The Pale.”
Cllr Conway also queried if the report’s author was, to use his own words “playing to the gallery”.
He added: “In other words, did he go easy on the cuts where Fianna Fáil is most vulnerable, i.e. the cities, and load it then on communities less vocal and more fragmented.”
The absence of any Dáil reform was also telling in the Tramore-based Councillor’s opinion.
“It is pointed that no axe is wielded at the national parliament, which – with 166 members – makes us by far the most over-represented people in Europe.
“Contrast that with the proposed cuts in local government, where we have one of the lowest ratios of representation of any country among the 47 Council of Europe states.
“It would appear that the tab for all the financial mismanagement of the last decade is largely to be picked up by those on the land and close to the land.
“It does not come across as a programme of equity, but more like the product of the lucubrations of the Sancerre-sipping Dublin 4 political-economy set, who have no empathy with the country.
“Once again, we have been poorly served indeed in rural Ireland by the gurus of The Pale.”