Leo visits as FG look to make up ‘lost ground’ 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar visited the county last Thursday where he met with local business people and officially opened Senator Aisling Dolan’s new constituency office in Roscommon town.

Speaking to assembled media on the new-look Square, the Tánaiste admitted that his party had lost ground in the Roscommon Galway constituency but was adamant a seat could be gained at the next election.

“This is definitely a constituency where the Government can make a gain in the next election. That means making sure there are good job opportunities, making sure we bring broadband to every town, village and farm and making sure we deal with the challenges arising from the cost of living, as well as making improvements in healthcare and education,” he said.

“I think the most important thing we can do to regain ground – and we have lost ground in this constituency – is to deal with people’s concerns and worries. Standing here in the rejuvenated market Square is an example of what can be done. It’s really improved the quality of the town, and the urban fabric. It’s great to see a lot of thriving businesses as well”.

Addressing farmers’ concerns over new emissions targets, Mr. Varadkar said that every sector would have to make a contribution and that farmers should be incentivised rather than penalised.

“We’re here on a lovely sunny day in Roscommon but if it was five degrees hotter we’d all be very worried, particularly the farmers. If we don’t turn the tide on climate action in the next couple of years, I’m not sure what will be growing in Ireland because it won’t be grass. The best thing we can do is to help farmers on that journey and encourage them to make the right decisions which are also commercial decisions,” he said.

When asked about Fine Gael’s closure of Roscommon A&E in 2011, the Tánaiste admitted that the decision had cost the party support in the constituency.

“It wasn’t a very popular decision and we lost support over that. But I do think more and more people over time acknowledge that it was the right decision on patient safety grounds,” he said.

“As time goes on, because of the way medicine has changed, you’re going to see more and more emergency departments being consolidated by larger centres.

“I think the approach was the right one in terms of the decision that was made. Maybe the way it was done could have been communicated and handled much better with more consultation and I think we learned from that”.

Adding to the Tánaiste’s comments, local Minister of State Frank Feighan again reiterated his support for the decision.

“I know myself from talking to people in Roscommon they now see that the hospital is safer. Not one person died in the last 11 years despite many people making dire promises about it. I’m delighted that we stood firm in Government and we delivered with the consultants, doctors and staff,” he said.

Senator Aisling Dolan said it was “an honour” to bring the Tánaiste to Roscommon town and to showcase the “impact of Government funding and regeneration”.

“Fine Gael is working to build stronger, safer communities making our towns and villages more attractive for people to live and work. Roscommon has a lot to offer from community spirit with great clubs and schools, to cutting edge industries and innovative start-ups. Over the past number of years we have seen families moving to Roscommon for a better quality of life,” she said.

During his visit, the Tánaiste visited Harmac Medical in Castlerea and took part in a community and enterprise engagement meeting in the Abbey Hotel.