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Sinn Féin receives warm reception at National Ploughing Champtionships

23 September, 2003

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP along with party colleagues Martin Ferris TD, Cllr Gerry McHugh, Cllr Joe Reilly and Munster EU candidate David Cullinane today attended the National Ploughing Championships in County Meath, where the party had a stand for the first time. Speaking from County Meath this morning Mr. Adams said that it was an important development for the party to attend the National Ploughing Championships, which for many decades had been an important shop window for Irish Agriculture.

He said that Sinn Féin representatives would be meeting people from across Ireland over the next three days to discuss the huge difficulties facing the agriculture industry and rural communities and the need for an all-Ireland approach to deal with these issues particularly at a European level.

Mr. Adams said:

"As the only all-Ireland party Sinn Féin has been to the fore in calling for an all Ireland approach to the serious problems facing Irish agriculture which if not addressed will lead to thousands more families forced off their farms. Government cutbacks are also hurting rural communities, destroying vital services such as transport, schools and post offices. There is also a failure to meet agreed targets to provide and sustain non-agricultural jobs in rural areas.

"Sinn Féin regards rural development as far wider than issues around farming. People in rural communities are entitled to the same level of provision of public services like education, transport, and housing as any other citizen.

"Sinn Fein has always supported decentralisation. This should have two aims; to allow people in rural communities to remain at home if that is their wish, and to encourage those who wish to move out of the big cities and towns. However, that will require intensified efforts to move jobs and the public service away from Dublin.

"We also want to see far more local democratic control over the various rural development programmes. The EU is committed to Œbottom ˆ up‚ development and we will continue to campaign for that to be genuinely implemented in all EU funded programmes.

"In relation to CAP Sinn Féin supports the introduction of full decoupling of all farm payments. We see this as providing the opportunity to give farmers a guaranteed basic income and to allow them to make production decisions that are not tied to the need to qualify for subsidies.

"It must, however, be part of a new strategy for Irish agriculture that moves away from the traditional systems of relatively cheap bulk production for export. The future for Irish farmers and the processing industry lies in higher value added systems."ENDS

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