PEARSE Doherty says that the latest social welfare figures highlight the ongoing neglect and lack of investment in Donegal.
Figures published on Monday show that 22,500 people are now availing of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment in the county.
This represents almost 50% of the total workforce in the county and is the highest percentage of workers, per capita, of any county, receiving the payment.
“This figure is stark and is reflective of the plight of workers and those who were employed by small and medium rural businesses who have been hit hard by this pandemic,” the Donegal Sinn Féin TD said.
“It shows how vulnerable Donegal is following decades of neglect and a lack of proper investment in the county.
“I have spoken to various agencies within the county today and I am calling for a joint and coordinated approach between state agencies such as Údaras na Gaeltachta and Enterprise Ireland, supported by Donegal County Council and others.
“What is clearly needed are stimulus packages for our local businesses to help kickstart the economy and to get people back to work when this pandemic passes and when it is safe to do so.”
Deputy Doherty said that small and medium rural business were the ‘lifeblood of rural Ireland’ and should not be ‘left to fend for themselves’.
He said: “They will be the ones to help us and our workers to get back on our feet when this is over. But they need support now.
“Sinn Féin is advocating that the current loan scheme introduced by the Government to provide cash to businesses is changed so that the current 4% interest rate that is being charged is lowered to 0%.
“In addition, we need a system of grants for businesses, with targeted grant schemes for certain sectors of the economy that may need that extra support.”
“We also need an injection of capital spending on infrastructure such as roads and building projects in Donegal to help create jobs, support the local businesses that are currently in the region and to entice new businesses to come and locate themselves in the northwest.”
Deputy Doherty called for a ‘clear roadmap’ for those workers currently in receipt of Pandemic Unemployment Payment in the county in order ‘to ensure that the businesses that were employing the workers before the crisis are there when this is over.”
He said: “Donegal has been left behind by successive governments. Before this crisis we were just about able to see the light at the end of the tunnel following the last economic crash.
“Now we have been plunged back into darkness. We cannot be left waiting another 10 years before we start to see economic recovery again.”Tags: