[Sinn Fein]

November 14 2002

Ferris: Cutbacks Undermine Commitment To Rural Development

The Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development, Martin Ferris TD, has claimed that the cutbacks which will be implemented by the Government in the forthcoming budget represent a betrayal of the commitments made in the Programme for Government to properly fund the various rural development programmes.

Commenting upon the Estimates released on Thursday afternoon, Deputy Ferris pointed to the reduction in the funding being made available to Rural Affairs as evidence that the Government has no genuine commitment to the regeneration of rural communities;

``The overall budget devoted to Rural Affairs is being cut by ¤13.4 million, a reduction of 26% on the 2002 total. The money being made available to the rural developmental aspects of the National Development Programme is down by 7% while the CLÁR programme of which so much was promised has had over ¤3 million slashed from its allocation. Funding to promote the use of information technology by community groups has been decimated while the budget for the Gaeltacht is down by 10%.

``What all of these cuts will mean, especially when taken along with the overall reduction in public spending, is that rural communities will be subject to further isolation and underdevelopment. I will be asking Minister O'Cuiv to explain how these cuts can be justified given the promises which he has made in the recent past. I, along with my party colleagues, will also be strongly arguing for the proposed cuts to be set aside and that proper funding and commitment be devoted to ensuring that rural communities are not made to pay for another period of so-called `hair shirt economics'.''

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