[Sinn Fein]

7th March 2003

Sinn Fein to press forward an all-Ireland front

The Sinn Fein Spokespersons on Agriculture and Rural Development, Martin Ferris TD and Gerry McHugh MLA, along with Pat Doherty MP, met in Dublin on Thursday to discuss the further development of party policy. The meeting reviewed progress made to date as well as the party's efforts to encourage the tackling of the crisis in rural Ireland on an All Ireland basis.

In a joint statement, Deputy Ferris , Mr. McHugh and Mr. Doherty said:

``Sinn Fein has deep roots throughout rural Ireland and it is vital that this is reflected in party policy. To this end we have been engaged in a process of practical work through the political institutions and through contact with other representative groups, as well as developing a comprehensive policy on all aspects of farming and rural development. Much of this will be reflected in the wide-ranging debate that will take place at this month's Ard Fheis.

``Rural Ireland encompasses far more than simply farming and it is vital that along with the protection and strengthening of that sector, that everyone living in rural communities from Kerry to Antrim has the means to live a decent life. That means that apart from farming, that there are adequate jobs as well as housing, transport, childcare and all the other basic entitlements that are necessary to end poverty and isolation. To this end Sinn Fein will be to the forefront of the fight to regenerate rural communities and to implement the policies that will reverse the decline that is all too evident at the present time''.

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