SPECIAL 2013 PLOUGHING CHAMPIONSHIP EDITION
FINE GAEL’S, LABOUR’S AND FIANNA FÁIL’S STEALTH TAXES AND CUTS
» Septic tank charges » Household Charge » Property Tax » Water charges » Increased VAT » Higher Motor Tax » Child Benefit cut » Home help hours cut » Carer’s Respite Care Grant cut
TIME FOR A FIGHTBACK BY GERRY ADAMS TD SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT
RURAL IRELAND and rural communities are the heart of Ireland. Most Irish citizens can trace their roots back to rural Ireland. While my family has lived in Belfast for generations, my roots are in Counties Down, Leitrim and Donegal. Like many others, my family moved to the city in search of employment and better opportunities. Today the island of Ireland has a population of just over six and a half million. Cé go bhfuil an saol tar éis dul i bhfeabhas do chuid mhór den phobal le blianta beaga anuas, is fíor go mbíonn tionchar ag an áit chónaithe ar shaol an duine agus saol an chlainne. The economic collapse and the election of Fine Gael and Labour in the South have seen serious erosion in the quality of life of rural communities. The austerity policies of
the Government have pushed many lowand middle-income households into poverty and most others barely getting by. The last two years have seen a succession of savage cuts to wages and incomes and the introduction of new additional stealth taxes, like the septic tank charges, Household Charge and the Property Tax on family homes; water charges; increased VAT; higher Motor Tax; as well as cuts to child benefit; cuts to home help hours, to the Carer’s Respite Care Grant and much more. The closure of Garda stations, local post offices, and transport systems alongside the shutting down of rural schools is tearing the heart out of rural areas. Economic collapse and austerity are forcing a whole generation of young people to leave. This GAA generation are playing our Gaelic games in Brisbane, Birmingham and Baltimore instead of their own parish. As the social fabric of rural Ireland is under-
mined there is a growth in isolation, loneliness and suicide. All of this and the absence of equality of access to public services threaten the quality of life of people living in rural Ireland. Rural Ireland is under attack. It is time for a fightback. Land League founder Michael Davitt’s slogan was “The land of Ireland for the people of Ireland.” He believed that if people stand together there is nothing they cannot accomplish. That lesson is as relevant and necessary today as it was 130 years ago. There needs to be: • A fair deal for rural households • Job opportunities in rural Ireland • Protection for rural schools • Equal access to health services • Tacaíocht do cheantair Ghaeltachta – Support for Gaeltacht areas
‘This GAA generation are playing our Gaelic games in Brisbane, Birmingham and Baltimore instead of their own parish’
Management of natural resources in public interests
In the last Dáil, Sinn Féin produced three major Oireachtas reports focusing on rural Ireland: • Awakening the West - Overcoming Social and Economic Inequality; • A report on The Future of Farming and Fishing in the West; • A report on creating Greater Employment in the Agri-food Sector. (These can be read on the web at www.sinnfein.ie or contact Sinn Féin via email@example.com or 44 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, for a printed copy.)
In the North, we have taken responsibility for the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry on two occasions. That is the measure of our commitment to rural Ireland. We are no mean people. Is daoine uaisle iad na hÉireannaigh. There is a genius in the Irish people. And standing together – like Michael Davitt and the Land League before us – we will prevail.
A better deal for rural Ireland the need for the Department to establish a sub-committee to monitor the situation, inclding existing food stocks and reserves to cope with possible shortages. Sinn Féin has also called on the banks, co-operatives and businesses to be more sensitive regarding credit, loans and billing, often on farm households already experiencing difficulties. Credit suppliers should consider interest-free loans in certain cases.
CAP Sinn Féin has argued for a fairer distribution of farm payments under the Common Agricultural Policy. At present, just over 2,000 farmers and businesses on a Single Farm Payment of €50,000 and more receive between them over €150million. On average, they each receive €75,000. That contrasts with 52,000 farmers on €5,000 or less who between them receive €125million — an average payment of €2,400. We support the fullest possible redistribution of farm payments under the framework agreed in June. We have submitted our proposals as part of the Department’s consultation with stakeholders and other interested parties.
Fodder Crisis The earlier part of this year witnessed one of the most severe crises to hit Irish farmers. The shortage of fodder on foot of poor weather conditions saw a massive increase in the deaths of animals and
Protecting producers and consumers
placed enormous financial and logistical pressures on farmers to try to feed their herds. Apart from the hangover of debt and financial losses as a consequence of farmers having to buy in emergency supplies, there is also the danger that a similar spell of bad
weather might lead to a recurrence of the problem. It is vital then that contingency measures are put in place now to ensure a more effective response should such a situation reoccur. Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD raised in the Dáil
The horsemeat scandal underlined the threat to food safety and the integrity of the entire Irish food sector. A stricter regime regarding food traceability and labelling is vital. Martin Ferris attempted to do this in a Food Safety Bill published in the aftermath of the crisis. The crisis also illustrated the power of the multiple retailers and processors. Farmers were surprised that factories which they supplied were also importing what was allegedly ‘Irish beef’. This highlights the need for ‘Country of Origin’ labelling.
Fighting for the CAP Thanks to David Cameron’s British Tories – supported by the Democratic Unionist Party and the Ulster Unionist Party in both Westminster and Europe – the EU agriculture and fisheries budgets have been slashed by a billion euro
BY MARTINA ANDERSON MEP
Sinn Féin representatives Martina Anderson MEP, Martin Ferris TD, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA, Wexford Councillor Anthony Kelly and Michelle O’Neill MLA at the IFA stand at National Ploughing Championships 2012. (below) Martin Ferris Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and Marine and Rural Affairs and Six County Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle O'Neill, take shelter under an umbrella while strolling around last year’s Championships
IN CAP REFORM negotiations during the EU Budget process, Sinn Féin’s focus at all times was to secure three key elements: Well-funded programmes; Flexibility; Simplification. The CAP Budget is approximately 40% of the EU expenditure and the pressure to reduce it came from British Tories led by David Cameron who were supported by the Democratic Unionist Party and the Ulster Unionist Party in both Westminster and Europe. As a result, agriculture and fisheries budgets have been slashed by a billion euro. The draft figures for next year show that the British Government has agreed a huge reduction of 22% in real terms in the field of rural development — the biggest reduction of any member state. The motivating factor in the British Government’s demand for cuts would seem to be its aversion to contribute 25% match funding. While the British see a 25% contribution as a cost, the Irish Government view it as a mechanism to have 75% of a programme funded by Europe. This approach could see many Northern farmers struggling to stay on the land. Irish and British representatives have been steadily contacted and lobbied by Assembly Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill to ensure that we influenced the direction of the negotiations to the benefit of the agricultural com-
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson munity across the island during protracted negotiations on CAP reform and the agri sector. While we are disappointed that agreement on active farmer status was not achieved, it is still a live issue that must be addressed. It is grossly unfair that landowners who do not contribute to farm productivity share the same benefits as working farmers. We had
‘I am hopeful that I will be joined by all of the other Irish MEPs in my determination to ensure that farm subsidies go where they belong – to our working farmers’ hoped that with the support of the Irish Presidency we could have achieved measures confining agricultural support to productivelyworking farmers. It would seem that the Commission does not see the injustice of unproductive landowners receiving sometimes massive financial gain without contributing to the production chain. I am hopeful that I will be joined by all of the other Irish MEPs in my determination to ensure that farm subsidies go where they belong — to our working farmers.
THERE IS A BETTER WAY
MAXIMISING ACCESS IN RURAL AREAS
TACKLING RURAL POVERTY AND ISOLATION Agriculture and Rural Development Minister in the North, Michelle O’Neill MLA (Sinn Féin), highlights an initiative designed to assist those in rural areas gain access to services, grants and benefits.
Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill
IN RURAL AREAS throughout the North, the hidden nature of poverty and isolation can make it difficult to connect the most vulnerable with benefit entitlements and services. Often this results in people missing out or going without, which can compound poverty and isolation. The Maximising Access in Rural Areas (MARA) project is a joint initiative between my Department and the Public Health Agency (PHA) and is designed to tackle rural poverty and social isolation. It is based on the premise that identifying vulnerable rural households, visiting people in these homes and using a ‘personal touch’ encourages them to avail of services, grants and benefits which they would not otherwise have known about or had the wherewithal to apply for. By placing local rural community networks at the heart of the MARA Project and using local knowledge, it is easier to identify and connect
with people within the locality who could benefit from a household visit. Using local information, the project seeks to identify the most vulnerable rural households across the North. Trained enablers have completed almost 5,000 initial household visits where a detailed household and personal assessment is completed and a range of information is provided to occupants regarding regional and locally available services, including grants and benefits. These referrals will be followed through until such times as the householder receives the grant, benefit or service they are entitled to. A second home visit, of which 2,200 have already taken place, will be carried out for those households that received a referral to ensure the process is followed through to its conclusion and trust built up with the householder, again a key element. I am delighted that the people featured in the MARA case studies are so pleased with the project, which will continue until late 2014. More information about the MARA Project is available from: http://www.dardni.gov.uk/index/rural-development/rural-poverty-and-social-isolation.htm MARA Regional Project Manager – Teresa McGarvey, Public Health Agency, Health Improvement Team West, on 028 8225 3950 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
JOIN SINN FÉIN A Chara, If you want a real Republic you have to make a stand. If you believe in a better way, in a just society, in a united Ireland you have to make a
stand. So I am asking you to make a stand. If you support Sinn Féin – become a member. Mar bhall de Shinn Féin is féidir leatsa fíor athrú a dhéanamh. Is mise,
Gerry Adams TD
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Rural Suicide Awareness Initiative launched Sinn Féin leader calls for all-Ireland Suicide Prevention Agency to make best use of services for communities and families THE Rural Suicide Awareness Initiative launched by farming organisations, rural groups and Pieta House has been welcomed by Louth TD and Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, who has called on the Fine Gael/Labour Government to agree an all-island suicide prevention strategy with the Executive in the North. “An all-island suicide prevention strategy can make best use of existing resources and focus them on the areas of greatest need,” Teachta Adams said. He noted that recent reports on suicide levels revealed that one of the groups hardest hit by suicide is farmers and those living in rural communities.
levels are significantly higher than the official statistics suggest. Gerry Adams said: “One significant contribution to tackling suicide and self-harm would be greater co-operation between the health services North and South. The creation an all-Ireland Suicide Prevention Agency that would co-ordinate the work of all of those involved would bring immediate benefits.” “Around 500 people die each year in this state and 300 in the North.,” Gerry Adams said. “It is accepted that the real figure for suicide is higher and that as many as 1,000 citizens die across this island each year by suicide.” In evidence to the Dáil Joint Committee on Health and Children three years ago, Professor Kevin Malone of the School of Medicine and Medical Science UCD and St Vincent’s University Hospital reported that, in 23 countries, suicide
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• The Rural Suicide Awareness Initiative is supported by the Irish Farmers’ Association, the ICA, Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture. Booklets with advice on how to recognise the signs and symptoms of suicidal behaviour and what to do if someone is in crisis will be sent to the IFA’s 90,000 members. Pieta House will also provide training to members of these rural organisations so that they will be equipped to spot the signs and intervene.
Pieta House can be contacted at www.pieta.ie or 01 601 0000
TÁ DÓIGH NÍOS FEARR ANN
TÉIGH LE SINN FÉIN
Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy, Senator Kathryn Reilly and Monaghan Councillor Noel Keelan at the National Ploughing Championships 2012
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Not afraid to say what he thinks COUNCILLOR Matt Carthy is Sinn Féin’s European Parliament election candidate to be an MEP in the North-West constituency. Almost a thousand people attended the convention in Sligo recently to give their backing to Matt, an energetic campaigner not afraid to say what he thinks. We caught up with Matt as his campaign to win a seat in the European Parliament gets underway. Tell us about yourself? I joined Ógra Sinn Féin in 1996 and I’ve been a councillor since 1999. I’m married to Lynn and we have four young children. I live in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, but I spent much of my childhood in County Roscommon. Why are you running for the European Parliament? Sinn Féin is putting forward a clear alternative to Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour. This constituency needs change. Ireland needs change. Ireland has huge potential in terms of the agri-
‘Ireland has huge potential in terms of the agriculture, agri-food and other sectors but there needs to be investment in jobs’ ‘I won’t be a Yes man to sell bad EU policies to the people – I will make sure the interests of the Irish people are voiced in Europe’
culture, agri-food and other sectors but there needs to be investment in jobs. I want to bring a new and fresh voice to the EU Parliament and use it as platform to stand up for the Irish people. For far too long it has been seen as a retirement home for former TDs and that’s just not good enough. What are the big issues? The austerity policies that have been driven by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael/Labour governments have had a devastating impact on people across the constituency. Tens of thousands are emigrating. Families are struggling to make ends meet. Jobs are being lost. Rural Ireland is being badly hit by all these factors and by the removal of public services from our communities. It is clear that strategies that have emanated from Europe and were enthusiastically endorsed by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour are not working. It’s time we shouted ‘Stop!’
Seolann Sinn Féin tuairisc tuaithe IS TORADH ar bhliain oibre comhairliúchan é ‘Ag Seasamh Suas do Thuath na hÉireann’, an tuairisc atá Sinn Féin ag seoladh ag an gcomórtas treabhadóireachta. Chuaigh muid i mbun caidreamh le pobail tuaithe ó Ghaoth Dobhair go Dún Garbhán. Bhíodar araon den tuairim go gcaithfidh an Rialtas stopadh de bheith ag cur píonós ar na pobail tuaithe le n-íoc as peacaí lucht na mbannaí agus na mbaincéirí cama. Tá na pobail tuaithe lán le spiorad, cumas agus díogras chun an tír seo a chuir ar ais ar a chosa.
Caithfidh cruthú fostaíochta a bheith mar phríoracht. Creideann Sinn Féin go gcaithfear níos mó tacaíocht a thabhairt do ghnólachtaí agus comharchumainn loganta. Tá muid ag moladh athbhreithniú radacach ar roinnt na gcistí talmhaíochta agus na cuótaí iascaireachta le pobail cois chósta a neartú. Tá Sinn Féin ag moladh cáin céimnithe ar tháirgiúlacht ola & gáis de 80%, 60% agus 40%, chomh maith le scar stáit de 51% a bheith ar na taiscí. Tá muid i gcoinne ‘fraiceáil’ agus ar son an múnla Albanach chun fuinneamh gaoithe a fhorbairt.
Cheadófai tithíocht aonair tuaithe do dhaoine áitiúla agus chuirfí polasaithe pleanála tuaithe inmharthanach in áit. Bheadh níos mó béim againn ar phóilíneacht tuaithe, líon na nGárdaí a chaomhnú agus breis feithiclí a chuir ar fáil dóibh. Tá muid ag forbairt Bille Nua Gaeltachta a cheartóidh an dochar atá dhá dhéanamh ag an Rialtas seo do phobal na Gaeilge & na Gaeltachta. Seasfaidh Sinn Féin le pobal na tuaithe agus ar son cothrom na féinne do gach saoránach ar an oileán seo.
Special 2013 Ploughing Championship Edition of An Phoblacht - the Irish Republican newspaper. Published in Dublin.