26 February 2009 Edition
Farming and fisheries at our heart
Sinn Féin Ard Fheis 2009
BY JULIA CARNEY
OPENING the ‘Rural Regeneration’ section of the Clár after lunch on Saturday, Sinn Féin Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle Gildernew MP MLA made clear that an all-Ireland future for rural Ireland was a priority for Sinn Féin.
“At the heart of our rural communities are rural families, small-farm families and local indigenous small businesses,” the Fermanagh/South Tyrone MP said.
“We have shown farmers in the North the benefit of the all Ireland approach in adopting the ‘Fortress Ireland’ policy in relation to animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth and Bluetongue. We are now advancing the All-Ireland Animal Health Strategy, and moving towards the free movement of animals on the island of Ireland.”
She outlined the support Sinn Féin has given to rural communities in the Six Counties.
“We are investing £10m to tackle rural poverty through fuel support, rural transport and rural childcare initiatives. I am pumping £530m into rural areas of the North over the next five years.”
What Minister Gildernew is doing for the North is clearly something Senator Pearse Doherty would like to see for the west.
Since calling for the west of Ireland to come together to devise a fightback against decades of under-investment at last year’s Ard Fheis, the Donegal senator has taken the lead in making sure it happens.
“That fightback has begun and that vision is being provided by this party,” he declared.
“Our ‘West Awake’ campaign has given hope where previously there was none. Joined by Cllr Pádraig Mac Lochlanin and Ruadhán Mac Aodhán and assisted by our representatives along the west coast, I have completed a report for the Oireachtas on the needs of the west of Ireland.
“Awaking the West: Overcoming Social and Economic Inequalities is an economic recovery strategy for the west; it is a vision of a vibrant and confident region; it is a call to action.
“We have identified the problems and proposed the solutions.”
Sinn Féin Fisheries spokesperson Martin Ferris TD attacked the failure of successive Irish governments to protect our fishing industry as he proposed Motion 128.
“The Irish state surrendered control over our fisheries during the scandalous deal which it made during the negotiations to join the EU in 1973,” he pointed out.
“Since then, fish valued at up to €200bn has been taken from our waters.
“So for all the talk about how much we owe to Brussels as a means of brow beating us into supporting greater and greater centralisation of power, we have given up far more in the value of fish to other EU fleets than we have gained in direct payments, subsidies and structural funds.”
Deputy Ferris went on to demand that the Irish Government insists on the renegotiation of the Common Fisheries Policy to correct the imbalances in quota allocations.