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Sinn Féin launch ‘Delivering for Rural Ireland’ manifesto

27 February, 2007

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking at launch of 'Delivering for Rural Ireland' Manifesto in Omagh today has said that Sinn Féin is determined to ensure that rural communities can thrive and grow in the future.

West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty, Fermanagh South Tyrone MOP Michelle Gildernew, West Tyrone Assembly election candidates Barry McElduff and Claire McGill and Fermanagh South Tyrone Assembly election candidate Gerry McHugh also attended the launch.

Mr Adams said:

"Our rural communities are facing unprecedented threats to their well being. Cuts to public services in rural area, threats to rural schools, draconian planning proposals and pressures on farming and fishing communities underline the need a new approach to sustaining the future of our rural communities.

"Sinn Féin is committed to keeping farming families on the land and ensuring a good quality of life for everyone living in rural communities. We believe that agriculture and fishing in Ireland can be made sustainable within the context of an all-Ireland agricultural and fisheries policy.

"We want to encourage viable rural communities with a strong community infrastructure and equal access to all public services. We support agricultural diversification in mixed and organic farming as well as off-farm employment. We believe that coastal communities deserve a sustainable future.

"New rural regeneration strategies are essential to halt the decline and to empower rural communities. Sinn Féin has put the need for an integrated and coherent rural regeneration strategy - developed on a cross-departmental and all-Ireland basis - high on the political agenda.

"Sinn Féin has been working for a new deal for rural Ireland. We have always articulated the ways in which British agricultural policy is detrimental to Irish farming. We led the campaign to have the beef export ban in the Six Counties removed, and opposed plans to concentrate dairy production. We set out proposals to reduce the impact of the EU Nitrates Directive, and campaigned against the introduction of GM foods and crops.

"At every level we have pursued the spending of rural development money in rural areas and lobbied intensively to have Peace II money spent. We have consistently challenged the inefficiencies within DARD, including its failure to properly eradicate both TB and Brucellosis. We campaigned against the PPS14 proposals on rural planning and warned that the policy would aggravate the rural housing crisis." ENDS

Note to Editors

Keys Points in the "Delivering for Rural Ireland' Manifesto

  • Commission an all-Ireland Rural White Paper
  • Agree a comprehensive, fully integrated, properly resourced Rural Regeneration Strategy - in consultation with farmers and fishermen, rural businesses, rural communities and their representative organisations - that links agriculture, fisheries, enterprise, environment, culture, health, education, transportation, communications and social services.
  • Remove 'UK' status from our food exports, and integrate the agri-food industry and agricultural services on an all-Ireland basis, including an All-Ireland Food Promotion Agency.
  • Develop an island-wide animal health strategy, and keep Ireland as a whole GM crop-free.
  • Actively promote and assist farm diversification into new areas, such as renewable energy, and establish Rural Advice Centres to provide assistance to rural communities and farmers in maximising farm incomes.
  • Increase the quota allocation for Irish fishing fleets.
  • Radically reform the planning service to protect the right of rural people to live within their own community and ensure adequate consultation, transparency, accountability and consistency in all planning decisions.
  • End cutbacks in the provision of public services to rural communities and provide long-term funding for development of rural community infrastructure and capacity.
  • Support the role of women in rural development, including increased provision of proper childcare in rural areas to enable rural women to access training and employment opportunities.

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