[Sinn Fein]

2nd May 2002

Rural communities must have a future

Speaking today in Sligo at the launch of the party's proposals for rural regeneration, with party candidate for Sligo/Leitrim Seán MacManus, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP said that `the future of Irish rural life depend upon effective measures to reverse depopulation and ensuring that we have sustainable rural communities'. Mr Adams said:

`` Decisions taken over the next five years will have a profound effect on the future of rural communities across the island. For too long both governments and local authorities have neglected rural Ireland and the communities who live there. This is especially true in the West and particularly here close to the border in the North West.

``Sinn Fein believes in sustainable rural communities. We are committed to creating the conditions where rural communities can rebuild their local economies. We believe in preserving the fabric of rural life by keeping the maximum number of people on the land.

`` After this election Sinn Fein will be proposing that the government should bring about an All-Ireland process to address the crisis in rural Ireland and promote rural development. This will access the level of rural decline and allow us to bring forward all-island structures with proper financial assistance aimed at giving rural communities the length and breath of this island the real chance of a future.

`` A proper rural strategy must be cross-departmental and marry planning, transport, industrial development, education and agriculture.

`` Sinn Fein does not buy the popular myth that rural Ireland does not have a future. Sinn Fein is the only party, which is fighting the battle for sustainable rural development in all of the political institutions on this island. We will continue to do this. We will continue to argue for a fair deal and the chance for rural communities to have a future as secure and sustainable as any other section of society.''

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