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Acceleration in broadband roll-out must be a vital part of regional investment

Social Justice Ireland welcomes the news that 37% of IDA-led investments were in regions outside Dublin and Cork in 2014.  This is an improvement on the 2013 figure of 30%, but Social Justice Ireland reminds the Government that €200m must be invested in high-speed broadband outside Ireland’s major cities to create vital and sustainable employment by indigenous companies and multinational firms. 

Our stated position is that:

  • a rural broadband strategy is a matter of priority to support the development and growth of rural enterprise and the creation of employment in rural areas;
  • small rural firms and entrepreneurs should also be supported to develop their businesses and aid their participation in the ‘knowledge economy’; and
  • rural Ireland also needs sustainable, integrated public transport.

Permanent, full-time employment grew by 12.7% in Dublin during the period 2004 -2013, according to the Forfás Annual Employment Survey 2013, but fell by 16.6% in the north-west and by 17.5% in the mid-west during the same period.

Dr Eoin Reeves, one of the speakers at Social Justice Ireland’s 2014 poilcy conference, ‘Planning and Delivering a Fairer Future - Values, Democracy and Service Provision,’ also identified the delivery of high-speed broadband to the regions as a “clear priority” in his presentation.

Social Justice Ireland’s National Social Monitor 2014 also noted that the ‘at risk of poverty’ rate in rural areas was 4.5 percentage points higher than urban areas in 2012.  Our fully-costed ‘Budget Choices 2015’ policy briefing proposed a €200m investment in broadband infrastructure in rural areas. Social Justice Ireland has also urged the Government to consider introducing a Rural Entrepreneur scheme in Budget 2016 when the broadband infrastructure for rural Ireland has been put in place.