AN Údarás na Gaeltachta owned industrial unit in Belmullet, which has been empty for 20 years, is an example of the lack of support for job creation in rural areas, according to a Sinn Féin senator.
Speaking in the Seanad last week, Senator Rose Conway-Walsh highlighted that 89 units owned by Údarás na Gaeltachta were currently vacant throughout the country, with eight of them located across Mayo. She said one such unit located in Belmullet has been empty since 1999.
She said that these vacant properties were an example of the government’s ‘ignorance of job potential’ in rural areas and these units should be utilised to help small rural businesses.
“Instead of lying empty these and similar units could be used to help start-up businesses, community groups or charities. Even letting the premises for free is better than seeing such a valuable public asset lying idle for such a long period.
“I am calling on the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation to come into this house [Seanad Éireann] and tell us how is she going to facilitate greater co-operation between the IDA, Údarás na Gaeltachta and Enterprise Ireland to ensure that these vacant sites are taken into account and fully utilised for the benefit of communities,” she said.
The Erris-based Senator said that in order for this to happen, state agencies had to visit these sites and criticised the IDA for the lack of visits to Co Mayo in recent years.
“Up to November 2018, there were only seven such IDA visits to Mayo last year. If the Government is serious about creating jobs in Co Mayo, all the available infrastructure needs to be utilised and this simply will not happen if they don’t bother coming out on the ground to see and assess for themselves.
“We cannot just say we support indigenous business and enterprise when we have pockets of very high unemployment areas in rural Ireland and many of them are in the Gaeltacht. We cannot have these assets which aren’t being fully utilised,” she concluded.