Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Dwyer sets out Sinn Fein's priorities on agriculture and rural development for the East constituency

5 April, 2004

Sinn Féin East EU candidate, Cllr John Dwyer has today set out Sinn Féin's priorities in relation to agriculture and rural development. Cllr Dwyer was speaking ahead of an EU elections husting in the Montague Hotel, Portlaoise tonight. The event is organised by Macra na Feirme, with an invited audience of agricultural and rural leaders from the East constituency.

Speaking today Cllr Dwyer said:

"Unfortunately I am unable to attend tonight's meeting, due to an emergency meeting of the New Ross Town Council. But I want to assure people, that Sinn Féin is totally committed to the issues of agriculture and rural development within the East constituency.

"On March 31st 2004, I expressed my concerns over a report by Teagasc which identified the Southeast and Midlands region as the most economically disadvantaged in the state. The report delivered by Teagasc to the rural development conference in Tullamore presents a depressing picture of the Southeast and Midlands region in terms of economic performance. Household income in the Southeast and Midlands is now below 85% of the average, whilst in the border and western region it is nearly 90% of the average. In Wexford for example, the household income has dropped by 4% to 83% of the average income across the state.

"While the report makes depressing reading, nobody should be surprised at its findings. Over the past number of years, there have been a large number of job losses in small towns across Leinster particularly in the manufacturing sector and in agriculture. There is no sense of a government plan to address these problems and last minute announcements for decentralisation won't compensate for the lack of a strategy.

"Sinn Féin is committed to supporting the needs of the rural and agricultural sector. We were the first party to come out in support of CAP reform. We have long argued that it was required because of the imbalances which CAP had brought about; particularly the numbers of family farms which had been put out of business since 1973, and the effect which the dependence on subsidies was having on the structure of Irish agriculture.

"We don't see CAP reform as a panacea for all of the problems affecting Irish farming, but it can if combined with other measures and a revised strategy for the future, provide some level of income security on which farmers can base their future production without being tied to the need to produce in order to draw down subsidies.

"Sinn Fein is strongly in favour of declaring the whole of the island as a GM free zone. We have continually pressed the Irish Government to reverse its support for GM, and hope that they will do so at the next EU Council on April 26 and 27 when the decision as to whether to lift the embargo will be made. We have also met with the British Minister responsible for agriculture in the Six Counties and asked him to have the area declared GM free in the light of the recent British decision to allow the commercial growing of GM free maize. The only way to prevent cross contamination is to prevent GM crops being grown anywhere on the island.

"Sinn Féin also believe that a Land Commission should be re-established, that will intervene in the land market to buy agricultural land when it becomes available and lease it to small/medium farmers who wish to expand.

"I look forward to debating these issues in the coming weeks, with local people and the other political parties" ENDS

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