2 May 2002 Edition

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MacManus urges farmer rethink

Sinn Féin election candidate for Sligo/Leitrim Councillor Seán MacManus has expressed disbelief at last week's Irish Farmers' Journal poll results showing Fianna Fáil TD John Ellis as the most popular candidate amongst farmers in the constituency.

"I am astounded that farmers would want to vote for their own destruction by returning Fianna Fáil to government," he said. "Fianna Fáil in government have demonstrated that their first loyalty is not to farmers, but to an EU that is responsible for regulations that have decimated the Irish farming sector.

"Since Ireland joined the EEC/EU, more than 100,000 farmers have been forced out of farming nationally. Official predictions indicate that a further 20,000 will be forced out over the next ten years, and that by 2010 only 20,000 will be viable full-time farmers. In the last few months alone there has been an avalanche of farm sale notices in Sligo and Leitrim. Farm incomes have continued to plummet. In fact, the last Teagasc survey found that farm incomes in Sligo and Leitrim are the lowest in the state - little more than half the national average. People are being forced off the land, and they have been forced off the land throughout the lifetime of this government.

"Sinn Féin is the only party with a sincere commitment to the farming sector, and with real policies to reverse the decline. Sinn Féin in government will work to protect jobs, animal health, and the environment as part of our commitment to keep people on the land. We are calling for an examination of EU laws, and a simplification of EU red tape. We are calling for consultation with farmers on all aspects of the new directives. We are calling for full restoration of all currently withdrawn farm grants to smallholders, and we believe that this sector should have direct representation in Social Partnership negotiations.

"Despite their claims to be 'pro-farmer', the establishment parties' records on farming are disastrous. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael take the farming vote for granted.

"I would appeal to farmers to consider their vote very carefully. John Ellis - or indeed any other establishment candidates - will only copper-fasten the status quo for farmers. Sinn Féin is the party for positive change, and our agricultural policy reflects this."


An Phoblacht
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