Speaking from his home in Atlanta yesterday Mr Casey told the 'Donegal Democrat': "Recent figures suggest that 300,000 people have emigrated from Ireland in the past four years. It's a given the vast majority of these would be from rural areas. This is sucking the very life blood out of the countryside. Donegal is a clear case in point; there is ample evidence of villages slowly dying, boarded up shops, pubs closed etc. The government is right when they say there is a recovery taking place. The figures are there. But it's a totally lopsided recovery in that rural Ireland is dying while the big cities, particularly Dublin, are forging ahead. Unless everyone in the country wants to move to Dublin for a job we have a major problem."
The Claddagh Resources boss, whose global executive business is based in Buncrana, said 'even the dogs in the street' knew that unless there was a proper broadband and mobile phone service rural Ireland hadn't a 'hope in hell' of attracting major hi-tech companies. They opted, he said, for Dublin, Cork, Galway or Limerick where the latest, high spec infrastructure was in place.
He added, however, that was only part of the problem; the other part was even if the government does get its act together there was still the barrier of attracting business people to come here. Right now rural Ireland denuded of people, services, education facilities etc. was not exactly, he suggested, a magnet for high flyers.
Mr. Casey commented: "I've been invited to speak at the Global Technology Forum in Dublin in November. These are the top movers and shakers in the hi-tech world and while networking those people I will be urging them to come to Donegal. But if I can do my bit I would like to see is the government also getting its act together and coming up with a few innovative ideas to sell Donegal to these people.
"They should be encouraging people to come back home by introducing tax breaks for new business start-up; low mortgages rates for returning emigrants; capital tax reductions for business which establish in rural areas. Basically, they should be saying we'll invest in you for five years or so to get your business up and running. It's a sort of quid pro quo - you invest in us, we invest in you. And everyone wins."
Mr Casey concluded that there was a huge pool of young, talented people in Donegal and Derry that could bring about regeneration but it would be Australia or Canada that would be getting the benefit of that talent unless some pretty radical steps were taken very soon to address what he described as 'the brain drain' from these parts.