‘Our place is in Europe’ – Fearon

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Monday, November 16th, 2015
Newry and Armagh MLA Megan Fearon has said that while the EU has it’s issues, the best place for rural Ireland is in Europe. fearon7“As the debate over exiting the EU continues it is important to consider the implications for rural areas such as South Armagh,” she said. “Sinn Féin adopts a policy of ‘critical engagement’ with the EU and we are acutely aware of the red tape and bureaucratic burden that the EU impresses upon us. In rural areas we have seen how, for example, farmers are heavily penalised for the slightest of errors on their Single Application forms. “Support for Europe does not mean slavish adherence. I share concerns over how decisions are made in the EU, particularly in the context of the current discussions around TTIP. “However, whilst there are many issues and challenges of EU membership, there are many advantages to membership, particularly in the context of a London-centric Tory government which has applied swinging cuts across all sectors and has their axe sharpened for more austerity,” the local MLA continued. “In 2014, £248 million was paid directly to farmers in Single Farm Payments (SFP). In addition to this, £26.3m was paid in LFACA and £20m in Agri environment schemes. In the constituency of Newry and Armagh £ 24,972,843 was paid out last year in SFP while a further £7,180,291 was paid out through other RDP measures. “This is support that our farmers and rural communities depend on to survive. It is estimated that 80% of farmer’s income is derived from EU direct payments. Without SFP and the other measures in the Rural Development Programme (RDP), our farming families would be forced off the land and large parts of our rural community sector would collapse. Fearon added, “The benefits of EU membership were seen most recently when Minister O Neill secured a £5.1m targeted aid package for the north. This also underlines the importance of having a locally accountable Minister overseeing this important department. In the interest of all of our hard pressed rural and farming communities, our place is in the European Union.”
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