Agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív committed to push through the policy, alongside the return of decentralisation and special tax breaks for rural towns, if voters put his party into government next year.
Speaking at a wide-ranging debate at the Fianna Fáil ard fheis, on the issues affecting struggling rural communities, Mr Ó Cuív said rural Ireland has been ignored and this is damaging the wider economy.
In a bid to address the issue, which he said is not in Dublin’s interests as it creates rent bubbles, school shortages and other problems in the capital, the Galway West TD said he wants to bring “30,000 jobs” to struggling villages and towns nationwide.
The Fianna Fáil frontbencher said this will be done by forcing “every new quango” to set up outside of urban areas; re-examining Charlie McCreevy’s controversial Celtic Tiger-era decentralisation policy; and by creating a “state- sponsored scheme similar to the Tidy Towns” that will award villages for creating new jobs every year.
At a separate meeting, the party also voted to allow special tax breaks for towns with fewer than 5,000 people, to encourage businesses to set up in the areas.
The promises — which also include long-awaited blanket broadband — compete with similar Government plans announced last month to woo rural voters, and were widely welcomed, with delegates saying their areas “pay taxes too” and deserve sustained support.
Responding to Mr Ó Cuív, Donegal South West senator Brian Ó Domhnaill said the crisis in rural Ireland is being added to by IDA Ireland, which “doesn’t look past the pale” to invest.
Kerry South senator Mark Daly said that the “lack of investment in infrastructure” has caused “100 banks, 140 Garda stations, and 1,290 pubs” to close in rural communities.