‘The EU has been good for Mayo’ — Higgins

“One of the questions I get on the doorstep is ‘what’s Europe ever done for me?’ The answer is – a lot!” said MEP and European election candidate Jim Higgins. He went on to say this week that “as well as general achievements such as opening up our export and trading market, our membership of the EU has directly benefited Mayo in many, many, ways. One of my biggest priorities in Europe has been the reform and support of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP ), and of this, Mayo has been a big recipient – receiving €22m of CAP single farm payments in 2013 alone. Of the 61,000 jobs created last year, approximately 25,000 were in agriculture. I’d be the first to say that agriculture is driving our economic recovery and that’s why I fought to safeguard the CAP budget. The new CAP will provide Irish farmers with €12.5 billion from 2014-2020, so that our agriculture sector has the support it needs to prosper.”

The Mayo native also stressed the great work that EU funded local LEADER groups have done, saying: “I've been a strong supporter of our LEADER programme. LEADER's role is to provide support for businesses and community groups in rural areas that are too often neglected. In the most recent round of LEADER funding [2007- 2013], Mayo will have received almost €30m to support local development.”

As well as these broader examples, MEP Higgins outlined a selection of community projects which have benefited from EU support, saying: “Tourism-based bike and boat hiring services in Clew Bay received €91.6k, Balla Community Walled Garden was awarded almost €62k, Ballinrobe Family Resource Centre received over €150k towards construction and development work, and Claremorris Community Recreational Centre benefited from €150k investment in community recreational facilities.” Higgins urged voters to get out and vote on May 23, to ensure that Irish voices are heard at EU level. “The projects supported here are diverse, varying in activity and funding. It’s vital that we continue to work to ensure that this money continues to reach Mayo, supporting its development, and making sure local organisations can get the resources they need.”

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