[Sinn Fein]

2nd October 2002

Ferris welcomes Fischler statement on farm grants

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development Martin Ferris TD has welcome Agricultural Commissioner Fischler's rejection of the use of EU grants to convince farmers to vote Yes in the Nice referendum. Commenting on Fischler's claim that it would be `nonsense' to threaten Irish farmers that they would be punished if they vote No, Deputy Ferris said:

``Commissioner Fischler's statement must be seen as an implicit criticism of the manner in which the Government has sought to use EU funds to influence the way in which farmers will vote. Apart from cynically timing payments to coincide with the referendum, government and other pro-Nice spokesperson have claimed that EU funding will be under threat if Nice is rejected for the second time.

``It is clear from Commissioner Fischler's comments that this will not be the case. A different approach may have to be adopted in relation to the proposed enlargement but that surely must be welcomed. That would mean that the concerns expressed by the people of this state will have to be seriously addressed. It will also mean that much greater consideration will be given to Irish concerns over the future of agriculture in the enlarged union.''END

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