Election Blog 4

Wednesday 29th January

It’s just as well that the election has only just over a week to run as there is so much hype about it especially on the national media that people are already suffering from ‘election overkill’ with every word analysed to within an inch of it’s life.

I didn’t know what to expect from the Prime Time programme that was broadcast live from Castlerea on Tuesday night but it was probably the best election programme that has been aired so far. The opening report featured several well known local people from a number of different walks of life who spoke so well abpout the problems facing us in this county.

The live debate at the beautiful Arts Centre in the town was lively and covered a lot of the issues that are important to people who live in our county. However when it was over I was more convinced than ever that rural Ireland is in deep trouble. There were stories of long commutes to work, no young people in rural areas, pubs closing down and businesses and houses vacant while the east coast of the country is bursting at the seams.

Breege Callaghan spoke very well about rural isolation and the fact that there are many people in our county who will be lucky if they see any other human being from one day to the next. The absence of public transport in rural areas was also major issue.

But most serious of all were the people, particularly the elderly, who are now so scared and reluctant to go to a hospital if they are sick, that their illness is much more serious when they present at a hospital. They are reading and hearing of the trolley crisis and the long waits and it is putting them off seeking medical help which is a very sad situation. Speaker after speaker said that if there even some jobs in the county to try to keep at least some young people at home it would be at least something.

The plight of farmers was also highlighted. Former Roscommon All-Star footballer and manager of the Elphin Mart Gerry Connellan spoke very well about how people in rural Ireland and farmers in particular are being treated.

The big question is now- Is it too late? Are counties like Roscommon becoming resigned to being a place for the very young and. the very old ? I certainly hope not. I was born bred and reared in this county and have lived here most of my life. We deserve as good an economic future as Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. Whether the political will or the political capability is there remains to be seen.