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Rural Ireland needs a joined-up approach

22 September, 2009 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún speaking from the all-Ireland Ploughing Championship in Athy, Co Kildare today has said that rural Ireland needs the Irish government, the Executive and the EU working in partnership to ensure its future.

Ms de Brún said:

“Ireland has always had a long tradition of working the land and has always faced challenges. The challenges today facing our rural communities are huge. Even before the global recession people in our rural communities were finding it hard to make ends meet. Now they face even greater pressures.

“If we get all of the decision makers working in partnership with our farmers, our fishing communities and our rural families then we can not just sustain rural communities but plot a way forward to a better future for people living in rural Ireland.

“North Kerry TD Martin Ferris has done important work with farming and fishing communities across the West of Ireland identifying common concerns and drawing up recommendations for action. He has highlighted the fact that there is a huge frustration and anger and a feeling that smaller farmers in particular are really losing out.

“The Lisbon Treaty is also a huge issue being discussed in Athy this week, and an issue that has divided the farming community. A key issue is the position of the EU and the WTO (World Trade Organisation).

“Irish farmers and development NGOs are rightly concerned at the agenda being pursued by successive European Trade Commissioners from Pascal Lamy to Leon Brittan and Peter Mandelson through to the current Commissioner Catherine Ashton - an agenda that is bad for Irish farmers and the developing world.

"I welcome the fact that our Agriculture and Rural Development Minister for the north Michelle Gildernew will attend the Ploughing Championships again this year. An all-Ireland approach is needed if we are to put rural issues high enough on the agenda

"Michelle Gildernew is currently taking forward her Rural White paper. Rural Ireland needs a joined up approach and we can best make progress through direct engagement with farmers and others living and working in rural Ireland.” ENDS

Note to Editor:

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún, North Kerry TD Martin Ferris, Six County Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA and Sinn Féin Vice President Mary Lou McDonald will be part of a strong Sinn Féin presence at this years all-Ireland Ploughing Championship in Athy, Co Kildare which runs from Tuesday 22 September until Thursday 24 September.

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