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Gildernew sets out priorities for sustaining vibrant rural communities

5 April, 2007

Sinn Féin Six County Agriculture and Rural Development Minister designate, Michelle Gildernew MP MLA speaking in Dublin today has said that across the island the objective must be to support and sustain vibrant rural communities for this and future generations.

Speaking at a party event setting out Sinn Fein's Irish General Election platform 'Equality for Rural Communities' that deals with issues such as agriculture, off-farm employment, investment in rural infrastructure and public services, fisheries and the right to rural housing Ms Gildernew said that north and south rural communities were facing many difficult challenges.

Ms Gildernew said:

"The challenge for those making policy and taking the key decisions that will affect the future of our rural communities is to go out and listen to, and engage with, the people who live in those communities.

"There is a responsibility on everyone in government to protect our rural communities. We need to ensure that decisions are properly rural proofed and we need to ensure equal access to the resources needed to sustain our rural communities. Our objective must be to support vibrant rural communities for this and future generations.

"We need to work with our farmers and our fishing communities, with everyone who sustains our rural communities.

"Without that engagement, without bringing decision making into the heart of these communities we will fail them. I believe there is a bright future for rural Ireland but it will only be built on true equality, on making the most of the opportunities and challenges and most importantly in taking an entirely new approach built on genuine partnership." ENDS

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