Martin Kenny TD- Speech on Rural Affairs Ard Fheis 2016
I am so glad to be given this opportunity to address the ard fheis on rural issues.
My constituency Sligo Leitrim is one of the most rural in the country and one of the hardest hit by the policies of austerity which we have endured for the past five years under FG-Labour and before that under Fianna Fáil and the Greens.
When economic recovery comes Sligo Leitrim the last place to see it, but when economic downturn comes it is the first place to see it under governments which have neglected rural Ireland for generations.
As a TD and previously as a councillor, 80% of the people who contact me are coming with issues to do with the decline in rural Ireland. There is a lack of opportunity for work, lack of services. There is no sense of future for our children and our young people have already left in droves.
We have to change government to change rural Ireland. Sinn Féin has put forward progressive policy to halt the decline and bring prosperity and progress to rural areas.
We want a future in rural Ireland that will preserve and nurture the best features of the lifestyle that we cherish. We are not all farmers but the survival of the family farm and the social fabric that it implies is the foundation stone of our rural policy.
We have to create the conditions so that people can live happily and productively in rural areas. There can be no discrimination on the basis of where you live. If you live in a rural area you have as much right to education, health care, transport, emergency services and communications as anyone else.-
Sinn Fein has introduced a Rural Equality Bill to the Dáil to end the kind of neglect and discrimination that has been the norm for country people and oblige public bodies to take account of the reality of rural life. We have to defend it too, against the possibility of fracking and the destruction that could cause to our beautiful, clean landscape.
We need real investment to provide jobs and infrastructure and we don’t want or believe false promises anymore. Rural Ireland must be defended and promoted and I pledge myself and my party to do that now and in the future.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh.