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Genuine rural development requires shift away from major population centres - Doherty

14 May, 2008


Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has said it is nonsense to claim that the Lisbon Treaty is completely unconnected to the WTO negotiations. Speaking on rural development in Dublin today Senator Doherty said the economic threat to rural communities is exemplified by the continuing decline in family farming.

He said, "The fabric of rural Ireland is being undermined. Traditional sectors such as farming and fishing and the industries connected to them are under increasing pressure, while there is an ongoing running down and withdrawal of public services from post offices to policing.

"The economic threat to rural communities is exemplified by the continuing decline in family farming. What is already a steady trickle could become a tidal wave if the EU proceeds with the proposals currently being put to the WTO in relation to food imports from third countries. The effects of which the IFA estimate to amount to a loss of 100,000 farmers and farm related jobs, and a revenue loss of €4 billion.

"While supporters of the latest proposal to move towards greater EU centralisation claim that this is unconnected to the WTO, that is of course a nonsense. Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty gives the European Commission 'exclusive competence' over international trade agreements. Article 10 of the Treaty makes 'the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade' a key aim of the EU and Article 188 states that decisions on international trade will be taken by qualified majority vote.

"Genuine rural development and regeneration requires a genuine and publicly led shift away from the major population centres. Economic investment needs to be decentralised as does the state itself, and more power needs to be devolved to local level.

"Sinn Féin this week launched a campaign entitled 'The West's Awake - From Kerry to Donegal we demand our rights'. Deputy Martin Ferris and I will be holding meetings in every county from Kerry to Donegal to allow local communities to have their say. Among those we will be meeting over the coming months are farming groups, local community development organisations, GAA, Chambers of Commerce, Trades Councils, Postmasters and postal workers unions, Gardaí, ICA, Macra na Feirme, youth groups and others.

"People in the west of Ireland have a right to share in the prosperity of the state. They have a right to a decent job, have a right to proper transport links, a right to adequate public services and a right to all of the amenities that allow you to live a full life. But none of this will happen by chance." ENDS

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