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Gildernew congratulates JFC innovation award winners

14 March, 2008

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA travelled to Athlone to congratulate the winners in the JFC Innovation Awards and to co-host the presentation dinner.

Speaking during the Awards ceremony the Minister said:

"This competition is all about encouraging and providing tangible support for innovation in the countryside. There is no doubt about the need for rural dwellers to continue, as they have in the past, to investigate different ways of using their resources - be it farm produce, land, buildings or expertise - to secure a sustainable future for their families and the wider rural community."

Minister Gildernew indicated that all of the finalists from the North had benefited from funding under the last Rural Development Programme.

She said:

"Over the past nine months I have had the opportunity to see the positive impact that relatively modest amounts of money can have on rural businesses." She continued: "I am determined that no time will be lost in getting the funding available under the new Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 out to rural areas."

The Minister congratulated the overall winner, Ralph Haslam from Mossfield Organic Farm, Co Offaly; the three category winners Lorna Robinson, Cloughbane Farm Shop, Co Tyrone; Jack O'Connor, Biomass Heating Solutions, Co Limerick and Michael O'Neill, Beara, Co Cork and all 12 finalists. The finalists included four entries from the North of Ireland - Lorna Robinson, Cloughbane Farm Shop, Pomeroy; Jim Magill, Mount Mills Flax Oil, Newry; Will Taylor, Glastry Farm Ice-cream, Kircubbin and Alfie Shaw, Agri-Images, Moy. She also congratulated Colleen Lowry, Blessingbourne Courtyard Apartments, Fivemiletown whose entry was 'highly commended' by the judges.


  1. The Minister jointly launched the JFC Innovation Awards for Rural Business along with Mary Coughlan TD, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at the Ploughing Championship at Tullamore, last autumn.
  2. The competition is jointly sponsored by JFC Manufacturing, Teagasc, DARD and the Irish Farmers Journal.
  3. The overall prize fund for the competition is €36,000. This includes cash prizes of €12,000 provided by JFC Manufacturing, advertising in the Irish Farmers Journal valued at €12,000 and mentoring and business support provided by DARD and Teagasc valued at €12,000.
  4. The competition attracted 62 entries - 18 from the North of Ireland and 44 from the South of Ireland.
  5. The Minister jointly hosted the Awards Dinner with Prof Gerry Boyle, Director Teagasc, in the Hodson Bay Hotel, Athlone on Thursday 6th March 2008.

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