[Sinn Fein]

3rd February 2003

Ferris: "Partnership Talks Have Failed Farmers"

The Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development, Martin Ferris TD, has expressed his concern at the manner in which the negotiations on a new Social Partnership deal appear to have concluded. He was speaking following claims by farmers' representatives that the talks had failed to address the main issues of concern to farmers.

Deputy Ferris said:

"It is vital that all sections of the community have a real input into the framing of a new deal. It is clear, however, that this has not taken place and that farmers along with others have been excluded from the main decisions. That can only spell disaster as we face into a period of sustained budgetary cut backs.

"The monies cut from agricultural and rural development programmes in the Estimates will have severe consequences throughout rural Ireland over the next few years. Now to compound that, farmers' representatives have to all intents and purposes been left out of the final phase of determining the next partnership deal. All of this confirms Sinn Fein's contention that social partnership as currently constituted does not genuinely reflect the concerns and interests of most of the population. Those who are to be made suffer the consequences of this Government's cuts; whether they be the low paid, elderly, sick, or farmers struggling on the poverty line, have once again not had their say."

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