Longford/Westmeath Senator Nicky McFadden has said the backing received by an Oireachtas Committee in relation to the protection of the pensions of farm spouses is a welcome reprieve during these “dark days of assault by the Government on rural Ireland”.
She welcomed the recent decision by the Social & Family Affairs Committee to back a proposal, set down by Fine Gael’s Olwyn Enright, calling for Minister O’Cuív to reverse the Government’s decision to remove the farm spouses’ pension.
“Recognising the difficulties faced by farmers, the Committee moved to have the contributory old age pension for farm spouses reinstated, following the callous decision by Government to remove it. The restoration of these pensions would cost just €570,000, a mere pittance when consideration is given to the fact that €40 billion has been given over to nurse Anglo Irish Bank along with no systemic importance to the Irish banking system and no credit benefits for the ordinary citizen,” said Senator McFadden.
“It’s no secret that farm families have been hammered hard by this Fianna Fáil Government. They have seen their incomes plummet and much-needed schemes revoked, pressing them to the pin of their collars.
“The REPS scheme has been cancelled only to be replaced by an inferior agri-environment scheme which will force farmers to do more for less in return. The Young Farmers’ Installation Aid Scheme and Early Retirement Scheme have also been abolished while the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme, Disadvantaged Areas Scheme and Forestry Premia have all been slashed.”
The Senator said she believed rural Ireland was slowly being eroded, with post offices being shut down, threatened closure of rural Garda stations, hospitals, and schools, and a lack of provision for rural transport.
“I am calling on the Government to do the right thing, to reinstate the farm spouses’ pension and to cease these vicious and unjustified attacks on the hundreds of farming families across the country,” she concluded.