Minister Ring and the Government need to redouble their efforts to support communities in rural Ireland as a report today on vacant shops and office premises in every county shows that the highest rates of vacancy are in Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo and Galway.
In addition, in the past week we have read that the last shop in Main Street in Manorhamilton Co Leitrim has closed down and it verifies what I have been saying all along about the pressure that small towns and villages are under.
The Government promised that there would be tax breaks for people who were living over their shops and businesses but it was never followed through on. Quicker change of planning use was also a proposal and tax allowances were to be given to people in an attempt to preserve local communities in towns and villages but nothing has been done.
There have been drops in population in many rural areas and North Mayo and North West Donegal are examples, and it is difficult for small businesses to survive in areas like these without incentives and initiatives by Government. What we do not need are loads of plans being announced but then nothing done is or followed up on. It is time that Minister Ring acknowledged the problem and stepped up to the mark.

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