The people of Mayo and rural Ireland have been encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Michael Davitt and oppose austerity and ‘start the fight-back for rural communities’.
The call was made by Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams (pictured) who was in Castlebar on Friday to launch the party’s ‘Love Rural Ireland’ campaign, which aims to consult with rural communities over the next number of weeks to produce a plan ‘for the regeneration and growth of rural communities’.
Speaking to over 200 people who packed inside a conference room of the Harlequin Hotel in Castlebar, the TD for Louth said that rural communities, particularly in the west, were ‘under attack’ and they had to follow Michael Davitt’s lead and stand up against the cuts.
“Mayo is famously the Taoiseach’s county, and it is the policies of his government as well as the last Fianna Fáil government which are contributing to the crisis in rural Ireland. But Mayo is also Michael Davitt’s county, who founded the Land League in this town in 1879. The Land League led the fightback against the exploitation of rural Ireland and the eviction of farmers and families.
“Davitt’s slogan was ‘The land of Ireland for the people of Ireland’. He believed essentially in ‘ní neart le chuir le chéile’. If people stand together there is nothing we cannot accomplish. That lesson is as relevant today as it was 130 years ago. This is not the Ireland Davitt envisioned. This is not the Ireland proclaimed in the 1916 Proclamation. So Mayo, the birthplace of Michael Davitt, is a good place to start the fight-back for rural communities which have been betrayed by the government,” he said.
Pointing out that Enda Kenny gave his word that no citizen would be denied access to public services because of where they live, Deputy Adams highlighted the introduction of septic tank charges, the closure of rural health services, as well other cuts to rural services as examples of how the current government has abandoned rural communities.
He also highlighted the threatened cuts to small rural schools. “Small schools are at the heart of most local communities,” he said. “If you look at the decline of our island communities, what marks the start of their death is when the local school closed down. That is the history of it, and rural schools should be protected,” he said.
The party has appointed Kerry North/West Limerick TD, Martin Ferris and Connemara-based Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh as party spokespeople on Rural Affairs. They will be responsible for embarking on the consultation process throughout rural Ireland.
Commenting on Sinn Fein’s ‘Love Rural Ireland’ campaign, Senator Ó Clochartaigh said: “Defending Rural Ireland is about fighting for equality for ordinary people throughout the island.
“We have to build a future for our children that embraces the wealth and diversity of our rural areas, that connects them to our urban centres but allows them to have living, active and independent communities which promote an inclusive and supportive society for all who choose to live there.
“It is time to give rural communities their voice back. It is time to stand up for rural Ireland and plan for its future.”
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