Call for greater co-operation amongst rural young people to face the many challenges ahead

At Saturday’s virtual Annual General Meeting, Macra na Feirme National President Thomas Duffy called for greater cooperation amongst rural young people to face the challenges ahead.

Addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, Duffy called for the building of a better “new normal” that provides more for all young people in rural Ireland. Duffy also noted that the pandemic has reduced traffic and increased greater working flexibility, something that should continue to exist when we overcome COVID-19.

Duffy called for climate action and a greater ambition on both targets and fairer distribution of supports between rural and urban Ireland. Duffy added that farmers need to create a farmer led agenda and lead the narrative instead of continuing to deal with the villainization of farmers’ role in greenhouse gas reduction.

The President also called for a fundamental rethink of the strategy of transport and work with an accelerated rollout of broadband, to enable greater opportunities for remote working, and investment in public transport links. He noted that these would also help to stimulate greater employment directly in rural Ireland by allowing the creation of a distributed chain of small and medium sized enterprises to take advantage of the new economy.

In closing Duffy stated that the predicted economic downturn cannot be used as an excuse or accepted to justify a return to previous policies. In the face of what downturn lay ahead, Duffy cautioned that young people will not accept the forced emigration witnessed during the 2008 downturn.

“Once before in my life we faced an economic downturn which we are now predicted to face again. The ‘solutions’ of the previous recession cannot be repeated. The forced emigration that has marred our past, destroyed our families and eaten away at rural Ireland like a cancer, cannot be repeated,” Duffy said.

Macra na Feirme was founded in the Republic of Ireland by a group of 12 agricultural advisers, rural science teachers and farmers 74 years ago, in 1944. The first headquarters of Macra na Feirme was located at the Town Hall, Athy, Co. Kildare and was opened by the President of Ireland, Sean T. O’Kelly, in September 1947.

Over 250,000 young people have passed through the ranks of Macra na Feirme since its inception

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