National Ploughing Championships to return to Stradbally

Taoiseach spends morning at event to canvas for Yes vote in Seanad Referedum

The Taoiseach at the National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co Laois. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The Taoiseach at the National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co Laois. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Fri, Sep 27, 2013, 01:02

It was said to be the most successful

The National Ploughing Association has announced that the Championships will return to Ratheniska in Stradbally, Co Laois next year.

The three-day show, held near Stradbally, attracted a record 228,000 visitors since it began on Tuesday morning and cost about €4 million to stage.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny spent the day at the event today, where he met ploughing world champion John Whelan and other competitors and watched the horse ploughing.

He is using the event to push for a Yes vote in the upcoming Seanad and Court of Appeal referendums.

Earlier today, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) urged farm families to vote Yes in the Court of Appeal referendum.

IFA president John Bryan said the new Court of Appeal was needed to improve the administration of justice and reduce stress for people involved in appeals.

“The Government must also press ahead with further reforms to make the courts system more efficient, make access to the courts less costly and bring down legal costs generally.”

The farm organisation has not advised members on how to vote in the Seanad referendum yet.

This is the last day of the ploughing championships, and organisers are expected to record the biggest ever three-day attendance when figures are tallied this evening.

Traffic was very heavy exiting the site yesterday evening after rain fell, but despite this morning’s rain, traffic has been moving smoothly.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams also visited the site this morning and called for the “rural proofing” of Government policies.

Unveiling the party’s Standing Up for Rural Ireland policy document, he said the Government must set up a jobs-retention fund and introduce measures to encourage emigrants to return home.

The party is also calling for more supports for small farmers and incentives to attract younger people to farming.

Earlier today, Fianna Fáil’s agriculture spokesman, Éamon Ó Cuív, said there should be no merger between Coillte and Bord na Móna. The Government is exploring this option after a decision was made against selling the harvesting rights of Coillte forests.

Mr Ó Cuív said the forestry body should be allowed expand and take over huge tracts of farmland belonging to Nama.

He said Bord na Móna and Coillte were “chalk and cheese” and that merging them would damage both and while not saving a lot of money.

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