Tuesday, 19 December 2006

New rural lobby group set to field candidates in election

From Irish Examiner:

A NEW alliance unhappy that the Government is ignoring the views of rural Ireland is looking to stand candidates at next summer’s election.
The Rural Ireland Alliance was established in West Cork earlier this month following the Government’s decision to ban drift-net fishing for salmon.
One of its five founders, John Nolan, is a former chair of the Fianna Fáil cumann in Castletownbere.
Explaining his reasons for leaving Fianna Fáil yesterday, he said: “I felt that rural Ireland and issues that affect people in rural Ireland — especially in relation to our traditional jobs like fishing, farming and tourism — we’re no longer getting listened to.
“Politicians have no problem at election time coming round and promising the sun, moon and stars. But we’ve been quite disappointed the way our fishing, one of the traditional industries, has been treated. [It’s] not only just fishing: also farming. In Castletownbere co-op alone, we lost 200 jobs in the last five years.”
The alliance, which had its first public meeting on December 6, would seek to represent disaffected fisherman, farmers, publicans and other members of the rural community. The goal would be to become a political party over time, Mr Nolan explained.
“We had a public meeting in Dunmanway two weeks ago and there were over 120 people present [from] all aspects of life in West Cork. Now, we would
hope that it would lead to an actual new party. We’re beginners; there’s no question about that. But what we wanted to look at was the possibility of setting up a lobby group. And it was almost a unanimous decision that we could look actually to go on the election trail.”
To that end, the alliance would seek to nominate a candidate to run in the Cork South West constituency — which takes in most of West Cork — in the coming months.
The hope is that other disaffected rural communities would then follow suit, Mr Nolan said.
The alliance will have its next public meeting on January 10, again in Dunmanway.
Explaining the alliance’s manifesto, Mr Nolan said: “I don’t want to be tied up to just the drift-net issue, because we don’t think that putting up a candidate will get drift-netting back. We just feel that successive governments have stopped listening to rural Ireland. We still have emigration from rural Ireland, but it’s emigration now to Cork and emigration to Dublin.”

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