27 September 2007 Edition

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New deal for rural Ireland needed - Ferris

THE 76th annual Irish National Ploughing Championship was held at Tullamore, County Offaly from 25 to 27 September 2007.
Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Rural Development Martin Ferris TD headed up the party’s major presence at the event.
Six County Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP accompanied Ferris and on Wednesday they were joined by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP, Senator Pearse Doherty, MEP Bairbre de Brún and local councillors for the launch of the party’s major document on rural regeneration.
Deputy Ferris said:
“The needs of rural communities are an absolute priority for Sinn Féin. This has been evidenced by the party’s decision to take up the agriculture portfolio in the Northern Executive”, Ferris said.
“To complement the work of the Assembly, Sinn Féin’s Oireachtas portfolios have been reallocated with a renewed focus on rural and regional development in both the Seanad and the Dáil.
“The largest decrease in farms over the last 15 years has been recorded in the border region where there has been a fall of 8,300, and also the west of the country where there are now 7,700 fewer farms.
“Sinn Féin has consistently highlighted the economic partition between the east and west of the country and also the border counties.
“Rural communities do not deserve the second-class treatment they get. They deserve equality with their urban counterparts. Those in power continue to pay lip service to the need for regional development and decentralisation but the reality remains that our rural communities continue to experience economic and demographic decline.
“We need a new deal for rural Ireland. We need to support the agricultural economies of our rural communities and ensure these remain an integral part of a balanced and sustainable future. Integrated regional development with a commitment to infrastructure and economic investment must be delivered.
“Our major document on rural development details the party’s proposals for an all-encompassing, strategic all-Ireland approach to rural development.
“The task facing us now is to listen, strategise, co-operate and harness the necessary political will to empower rural communities to achieve their maximum potential. Working with our ministers in the Assembly, what has been to date an aspiration for rural communities can in time become a reality.”
During her two-day visit to the Ploughing Championships Minister Michelle Gildernew met with a number of organisations from across the island.
Speaking from the event on Tuesday Gildernew said she was there to give the Six County Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the new Executive a firm voice at agricultural events such as the Ploughing Championships.
“We must keep up the momentum achieved since 8 May and strive forward to promote our local products and industry in all markets, especially following the recent foot and mouth outbreaks. The ploughing championships throughout Ireland are quite unique and it’s always encouraging to see first hand the large numbers of the public who attend agricultural events”, she said.
“It was also my pleasure to jointly launch the JFC Innovation Awards for Rural Businesses along with my counterpart Mary Coughlan. This competition, which commenced last year, was organised by Teagasc, the Irish Farmers Journal (IFJ)and JFC Manufacturing and this year DARD is delighted to be a partner in this is all-island competition.”

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