Councillor John Sheamais Ó Fearraigh has today called on the Government to do more to support indigenous business and to attract foreign direct investment to West Donegal in order to boost job creation in the region.
The Glenties based Councillor was commenting following the publication of figures provided to Sinn Féin which has revealed that of the 86 Údarás na Gaeltachta properties currently lying vacant across the country, 41 of these units are in Donegal – the single highest vacancy rate of the counties concerned.
Cllr Ó Fearraigh called on the Government to engage more closely with the state agency to use these units to attract inward investment and help bolster job creation.
He said “Information recently received by Sinn Féin shows that 86 Údarás na Gaeltachta properties across the state are currently vacant, quite a number of which have been lying empty since 2009 or before.
“The data shows that Donegal is the worst county affected, where 41 units or some 23 per cent of all properties held by the agency locally presently unoccupied.
“What’s more concerning is the fact that of these 41 units, half have been idle for five years or longer.
“Clearly, there is potential here to utilise these vacant sites and properties for a great number of purposes, particularly to house and support indigenous business and to attract additional foreign direct investment here.”
He added that if the Government chose to engage much more closely with Údarás na Gaeltachta, as well as the various other state agencies and bodies charged with job creation and industrial development, then these properties could surely be put to good use, with the potential to create jobs here in the west of the county.
“West Donegal is in dire need of substantial investment and focus from the government to ensure local people have the opportunity to remain, live and work in their own communities.
“These properties hold great potential for job creation and, as a member of both the local authority and a board member of Údarás na Gaeltacht, I am calling on the Government to facilitate better cooperation between the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta to ensure all of their clients are made aware of the units and financial assistance each of the agencies have to offer.
“I intend to now certainly raise this issue with An tÚdarás at the next available opportunity when the board meets again shortly as I feel that there needs to be a renewed focus of addressing this issue.
“Ensuring people from Gaeltacht regions, including Donegal, are given the opportunity to live and work in their home communities is vital if we are to protect and grow our native language.”