[Sinn Fein]

24th June 2003

Ferris calls for Ballinamore Teagasc centre to be kept open

In the Dáil today, the Sinn Fein spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development, Martin Ferris TD, raised the proposed closure by Teagasc of its research facility at Ballinamore, County Leitrim. Deputy Ferris attempted to have the Dáil adjourned in order to discuss the closure and the detrimental effect which this will have on agricultural research and the overall economic situation in the region.

Deputy Ferris said;

``The proposed sale of Ballinamore is a grave misjudgement on several levels. Apart form the loss of jobs and the loss of revenue to the area, the ending of research at the centre will have serious long term implications for the viability of farming in the North West. The type of soil that exists there covers 15% of the island and constitutes the most difficult and disadvantaged land. Incomes are much lower than in the prosperous regions and that makes it all the more important that research is available to improve productivity and the return to farmers''.

The Sinn Fein Agriculture spokesperson in the Six Counties, Assembly Member Gerry McHugh, echoed these points in relation to farming on the northern side of the border.

``My own county Fermanagh, along with much of Tyrone and Armagh, shares the same type of conditions and problems as those under investigation at Ballinamore. If we are to be serious about tackling that kind of disadvantage then it is vital that Ballinamore is kept open and that the fruits of the research carried out are shared so that they benefit farmers in both jurisdictions''.

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