Politicians urge Yes vote at ploughing championships


FARMING VOTE:THE LEADERS of the Fine Gael and Labour parties and Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith visited the National Ploughing Championships yesterday to call for a Yes vote.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said he expected that the Lisbon referendum would be carried next week. “If the Irish people decide to do otherwise, we are not going to be thrown out of the European Union but we will move ourselves by our own hand to a back room where we are distanced from the decisive decision-making process that is taking place and that is critical for this country’s future.

“So, it’s an opportunity and a realisation for the Irish people that we can determine our own future here.” Mr Kenny said it was “perfectly obvious” that farmers were going through a very difficult time, but a positive vote in the Lisbon referendum would ensure that Ireland would continue to play an integral part in Europe.”

Mr Kenny said the campaign was above party politics.

“We’ve put aside our difficulties with Government on the basis that this is about Ireland and about Ireland’s future. The people will have their say, and the people will have their day about this Government very shortly.”

Earlier yesterday Mr Smith spent several hours walking around the site and he also urged farmers to vote Yes. He said Ireland’s best interests and those of Irish agriculture were “unquestionably best served” by being at the heart of Europe.

“The benefits of goodwill and good-standing cannot be underestimated, and both will be significantly strengthened by a strong endorsement of the Lisbon Treaty,”the Minister said.

“The Irish Government needs to negotiate issues of concern to Irish agricultural interests from a position of strength, and not from a position of weakness. On the back of a Yes vote on October 2nd, we will be in a much stronger position to constructively deal with issues such as the future of the CAP for the period 2013-2021.”

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore told farmers they should not take out their anger about the Government on the treaty.

“The European Union is our biggest export market. For every packet of Kerrygold sold in Irish shops, there are seven sold in the shops throughout the rest of the European Union.”

It was very important that there was not a perception abroad that Ireland had become “semi-detached” from Europe.

“People out there who are making investment decisions...will look at the decision and will perceive that Ireland is pulling back from Europe, and I believe that that is bad for us,” Mr Gilmore said.

The Farmers For No group led by Longford farmer James Reynolds handed out leaflets urging farmers to “Beware of the bull – check out the treaty”.