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Sinn Féin to announce details of major Rural campaign

8 May, 2006

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew, Six County MEP Bairbre de Brún, North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan, Mid Ulster MLA Francie Molloy and Limavady councillor Brenda Chivers will announce details of a major new campaign to secure a future for rural communities tomorrow, Tuesday 9th May, at 11am in the party's Sevastopol Street Office on the Falls Road, Belfast.

Speaking ahead of the launch Ms Gildernew said:

"The planning proposals put on the table by British direct rule ministers will have a huge impact on rural communities. At the same time there are also problems created by the area plans governing the growth of our towns and villages and as always problems that have been created by unscrupulous developers and weak and inconsistent planning decisions.

"There are pressures on rural schools and concerns about equal access to health services. There are also difficulties created by decades of under investment in rural infrastructure, not least the rural roads network, and changes in farming that also threaten the long-term future of rural communities.

"Sinn Féin will be organising public meetings across the north as part of our campaign to bring about substantial changes to the draft planning proposals currently on the table. Unless the most punitive and restrictive aspects of these proposals are revised there are serious concerns that rural communities will begin to die. But this is only the first phase in a wider campaign.

"It is essential that we recognise that the countryside is more than somewhere nice to visit. It is home to thousands of people and the rural way of life is an essential facet of Ireland that has evolved over centuries. It has survived the famine and British colonialism. Sinn Féin are as determined today as ever to ensure that the rural way of life is protected and given the support to continue the upwards growth that many rural areas are currently experiencing." ENDS

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