Éamon Ó Cuív Blog
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I am concerned to help those people who need the most help from the State. As well as this, I believe that there is a huge unemployment problem at present and that it is of the utmost importance to find work for those receiving social welfare payments such as Farm Assist, Jobseekers Allowance and Jobseekers Benefit.
From the time of Fianna Fáil’s foundation, the Party’s aim has been to bring about a sovereign independent country of 32 counties, through fostering friendship between the Unionist and Nationalist communities in Ireland. Much has been done to foster this new friendship since the Good Friday Agreement.
As Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs I not only had responsibility for Foras na Gaeilge on an all-island basis but also The Boord o Ulstèr-Scotch (The Board of Ulster Scots). Through language development, I saw that both traditions can work together and build further respect for the diverse traditions on this island.
Naturally since Fianna Fáil’s foundation, there has also been an emphasis on strengthening Ireland’s economy so that the people of Ireland can have a better standard of living. In the past 84 years, a lot has been achieved but there is more to be done. There is still poverty in the country and people suffering from deprivation. Overall however there has been a huge improvement in the Irish people’s living standards since Fianna Fáil’s foundation and it has been under Fianna Fáil in government that the greatest part of this improvement has taken part.
It has always been a primary aim of Fianna Fáil to promote the Irish language. In the past few years great strides have been taken in this regard including the Official Languages Act (Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003), the founding of the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga and the Draft 20 year Strategy for Irish (Dréacht Straitéis 20 bliain don Ghaeilge).
I believe that transport is key to the development of the West of Ireland. Living on an island on the west coast of Europe, access to and from our region is of vital importance to the economic and social prosperity of the region.
I am delighted that the new road from Dublin to Galway will open on the 4th January next. I will continue to work to ensure that the difficulties that have arisen in relation to the Galway City Bypass are overcome and that this progresses as speedily as possible. I will also continue to work for the upgrade of the N59 from end to end as well as the development of the new road along the coast from Na Forbacha to Scríb.
I have for many years been an advocate of the use of existing railway lines for the provision of commuter services. I have been very involved in the development of the Western Rail Corridor and am delighted that the section from Ennis to Athenry facilitating train services from Limerick to Galway will reopen in December 2009. In Transport21, there is a firm commitment for the reopening of the Athenry to Tuam section by 2011 and I have been given an undertaking by the Chairman of Iarnród Éireann that the survey work on this section of line will commence immediately after the reopening of the Athenry to Ennis line.
In relation to airport development, I believe that Shannon, Galway and Knock airports have a vital role to play in the development of our region and I will continue to work to ensure that these airports develop so that they can provide ever better services to people of the West.
The Development of Galway CityIn the past, cities tended to grow outwards. Galway was no exception. However, there is now a very attractive possibility of regeneration right in the core of Galway in the docks area that has been recently vacated by the oil companies. A number of years ago, I set up a vision group in Galway chaired by John Killeen to look at the possible uses of the docks areas of Galway for landmark development of a commercial, residential, social and cultural nature so that Galway City could grow in its heart adjacent to both the bus services and the railway line. This vision also included the transformation of the inner dock into a haven for marine leisure. The recent Volvo Ocean Race gave some indication of what could be achieved for this area, making it a huge addition to the City Centre and ensuring that many, many businesses would be attracted back to the core of the City. I look forward to working with all the partners to realise this dream and to make the Galway docks area a mecca of culture and leisure. I believe that we should ensure that instead of turning its back to the sea, the new Galway City will face the sea.
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