Your Independent Voice for Rural Ireland
Connecting Midlands-North-West to the Heart of Europe
My name is Peter Casey and I am committed to providing a strong independent voice for the people of the Midlands-North-West constituency in the EU Parliament
Many of you will know me from the recent Presidential campaign which led to 342,727 (more than 120,000 in Midlands-North-West) of you supporting me with first preference votes. I have started and conducted business on every continent except Antarctica. I was born in Derry, and have lived all around the world - in Ireland, Australia and the United States. I now live in Greencastle, Co Donegal.
My campaign for Europe centres on solutions to regenerate our rural communities
Rural Ireland is suffering from decades of neglect and needs a strong independent voice to fight for prosperity. Many claim that the housing crisis in Dublin is Ireland’s number one problem. Frankly, I disagree. It is much closer to home for us in the counties of the Midlands-North-West region. People in Dublin do not have affordable housing, many are sleeping in doorways, many who grew up there can no longer afford to live in their home town. We in rural Ireland have suffered the loss of our young people to the city for generations. We need our share of the jobs and investment that go to Dublin. Ireland’s greatest underlying problem is how badly rural Ireland has been abandoned, so young people living there feel they must leave to be successful. This only puts additional pressure on Dublin. Imagine how much better things would be in our capital, and in all of Ireland, if more people wanted to stay in rural Ireland, and others wanted to move there. Recently, I visited schools in Donegal and I asked the students, how many will be leaving when they are old enough. Almost everyone raised their hands. And I know how they feel because I was just like them. I left Derry because I felt there was no opportunity to be successful at home. The focus of my campaign is on providing a strong independent voice for rural Ireland in Europe and at home. I will drive to ensure our counties, towns and villages are places where more people want to live and work. I am committed to battling the regeneration of our rural towns. To make that come true will require hard work, more jobs and most of all, new thinking.
Investing in Rural Ireland
Incentivise Entrepreneurs Companies which set up in rural Ireland’s towns and villages should be tax free for the first two years and capital gains tax free if the businesses are sold within 15 years.
New-Build Co-ownership A co-ownership scheme for new build homes in rural Ireland should be introduced. This would be similar to the GI bill introduced in the USA after World War II. The government would provide 50% low-interest loans to qualified borrowers as long as they purchase new build homes in rural Ireland. This would be a big boost for the local building industry in rural Ireland.
Internet Connectivity That Works Broadband plan is not working. To make rural Ireland a viable place in which to live and do business, we must roll out 5G in every county. Scrap the current tender nonsense - where the only bidder is e-Net - and demand that the current providers install extra masts so that everyone has four or 5 bars on their mobile phone. We must replace Comreg with business leaders who actually know what they are talking about.
Rural Education Scheme Free or heavily subsidised education should be introduced for tertiary institutions in rural Ireland. I believe if we encourage students to live there, businesses will follow. A condition should be placed on the grants, so students must work for a certain period in Ireland after graduating.
WB Yeats University The North West needs a university comprising Letterkenny Institute of Technology and Sligo Institute of Technology. These two fine education centres should be upgraded and integrated to form the campuses of a new WB Yeats University.
Rural Housing Vacancy Plan We need to take action regarding houses in rural Ireland that have been vacant for more than two years. The government should give the owners 12-months to rent or sell them. If owners do not comply, the government must auction off the properties with owners receiving the net proceeds.
Listed Housing Regulations Overhaul There are far too many listed buildings becoming derelict because owners can’t afford compliance with absurd regulations. The regulations must be amended immediately - as long as you keep the outside the same, do whatever you want with the interior.
More Gardai Our rural and border areas need increased numbers of Gardai. Rural Ireland and border Garda stations lie abandoned as crime in our communities increases. We need to recruit more Gardai and to achieve that we need to improve Garda pay.
Cross Border Cooperation
We need to significantly expand the cooperation and integration of government bodies in the border regions. Five of the 13 counties in the constituency border the North and I am the only candidate who has set up businesses and employed people on both sides of the border. I understand the trials and challenges of dealing with both government entities. I will fight to promote greater cross border cooperation to drive economic prosperity whatever the Brexit outcome.
More than 6,000 people came to Ireland under the Direct Provision programme and were not given passports or allowed to work. Many have been holed up for years in cramped housing. If we are to participate in a refugee programme, we must do it in a meaningful and humane way. Do the people we invite to make Ireland their home go to the top or the bottom of the housing list? How many immigrants can we support? If we invite people into our country, should we give them equal rights, the same as every Irish person? We have a serious skills shortage in Ireland and so I’m in favour of people coming here. However, I believe we must rethink our approach and get it right because the current programme is certainly broken.
Ireland’s agri-food sector is our largest indigenous industry, accounting for 7% of our GDP. It is also a massive revenue earner as more than 85% of output is exported. The bad news for farmers is that many are only subsisting; in 2018 average farm incomes declined by 15%. Our farmers face many difficulties. For example, figures suggest the average farmer receives about €18,000 a year in EU subsidies, yet some can receive up to €80,000. That can't be right. I will fight to ensure more equity in the EU's CAP payments policy. Our farmers need a fair deal and I will fight in Europe to ensure they get it.
Ireland has 17% of EU fishing waters, yet only 4% of the quota. This is costing the country untold billions of euro. Our fisheries policy has been an unmitigated disaster for Irish fishermen and for the entire nation. We were sold a pig in a poke by the EU. Year after year our fishermen have their quotas cut while other countries send their boats into our waters and raid our fisheries without hindrance. Brexit, again, could make this difficult situation worse if Britain pulls out of the European Common Fisheries Policy. Irish boats catch nearly half of the total value of annually decreasing quotas in British waters. Britain is also one of our most important markets for our fish exports. If they pull out, what then? The entire EU fishing policy needs re-negotiating and I will fight to ensure this happens
End to Single-Use Plastics
Our environment is under threat and Ireland should lead the way with bold measures to safeguard it for our future generations. I am committed to the introduction of a tax on single-use plastics and the introduction of tax breaks to encourage companies to invest in biodegradable packaging and products. I am committed to driving for an end the use of single use plastics by 2025. For example, if drinks companies cannot come up with biodegradable alternatives to plastic bottles, then they should be financially forced to revert to using recyclable glass. Can you imagine if Coca-Cola led the way and started promoting biodegradable bottles - they would clean up financially and they would clean up the world.
If you feel you would like to be part of my campaign, please contact me as I would greatly appreciate your support.
Is mise le meas,Peter Casey