Offaly TD calls for government action at Ploughing 2017
Speaking from the National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore, Co Offaly, Sinn Féin TD for the Offaly/North Tipperary Constituency and the party's spokesperson on Community and Rural Development, Carol Nolan, said that Budget 2018 must ensure that rural and farming communities are provided with supports to meet the challenges faced by Brexit.
Nolan was speaking as she helped to launch the party's budget proposals for Farming and Rural Development at the site in Screggan.
"Rural and Farming Communities face particular challenges as a result of Brexit, and this Government has done precious little to ease that uncertainty," Nolan said.
"A report by the joint Oireachtas Committee in March identified serious threats to the agriculture sector and a report published by Bord Bia has stated that Brexit has already cost the Irish Food and Drink Industry almost €570 million in 2016," she added.
"The prospect of a reinforced border on the island of Ireland is devastating for small businesses and farming communities, particularly for those who straddle that border."
"Sinn Féin has consistently called for special designated status for the north within the European Union in order to protect the interests of citizens on this island, north and south."
"This call has been supported by all parties in the Dáil and is echoed in the report by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation," Carol continued.
"The Irish Government must intensify their efforts to advocate and build support for this position within the EU."
"In the meantime, Budget 2018 must ensure that our rural and farming communities are provided with supports to address the challenges faced by Brexit," she said.
"Sinn Féin is arguing for the establishment of a €10 million Brexit Support Fund, designed to assist small businesses and farmers in assessing and preparing themselves for Brexit."
"Such a fund will also provide for the expansion of current enterprise programmes in order to provide all required assistance to our SMEs, including those in the agri-food industry."
"The Action Plan for Rural Development also commits to carrying out specific research on the impact of Brexit on Rural Ireland, yet to date this has not been carried out," Nolan stated.
"Sinn Féin believes that this research must commencve without further delay in order to obtain a comprehensive overview of the challanges faced by rural communities with regards to Brexit and to ensure appropriate planning can take place to mitigate negative consequences," she concluded.
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