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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘We want farmers to be able to make a decent living again’ – new farmer-led Roots Party

The recently launched ‘Roots Party’ envisions a “farmer-led sustainable agricultural revolution leading onto a green industrial revolution,” writes farming journalist, Catherina Cunnane.

The grassroots group – which is spearheaded by a cohort of young farmers, students and workers – and previously featured in this news article on That’s Farming – believes it “differs from other parties”.

It claims it has “the plan on how to save rural Ireland; all we need is support”.

April Sheehan Corkery, the group’s agricultural & rural affairs spokesperson, has urged all those who have recently called for a rural Ireland party, particularly one that supports farmers and the ordinary people of rural Ireland, including youth, to back the group to see it through to being a registered party and vote at polling stations “when the time comes”.

She explained that its policies are rooted in its “cohesive” agri and environmental plan, which provides solutions to current problems, “unlike the thinly veiled ecofascism we are currently being sold”.

Selling out Ireland

The group has accused the government of “selling out our country and our people in favour of relying on foreign money floating in and out of our economy while building nothing tangible”.

“We oppose all of this madness and propose a real strategy for the development of our economy that supports the farmer, the worker and the consumer.”

“We additionally, as we grow, will have officers for various groups, the workers of various industries and areas to make sure everyone’s voice is heard and represented openly with nothing done in the dark.”

“Also, we are anti-state and want to reduce administration and red tape wherever possible. Moreover, we are completely egalitarian and believe in direct democracy, the good of the people and the voice of the people above all.”

The group’s policies include minimum commodity pricing to suppliers set above the average cost of production to farmers, excluding grants to stop farmers from “being squeezed constantly”.

“We want farmers to be able to make a decent living again and no longer be dependent on subsidies with all their terms and conditions,” she added.

Policy matters

Its core policy areas include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The revamping or establishment of indigenous industries in rural areas following a co-operative model using its own natural renewable resources;
  • Liberalisation of the planning requirements for owner occupiers, housing co-operatives and local authorities building on their own land to standard plans;
  • The adoption of agroforestry/silvopasture based on native species and put an end to the Sitka spruce dead zones and foreign investor-led forestry;
  • An end to the replanting obligation and a desire to “put forestry back in the hands of the farmers and communities and process it here at home through setting up indigenous co-operative sawmills”;
  • Cooperativise arable, sheep, beef, fruit and vegetables. “We want to take our food sovereignty out of the hands of corporate interests.”
  • Ban vulture funds from buying housing or farmland altogether and increase the property rights of owner-occupiers and sole trading farmers;
  • Proper provisions and protections for our most vulnerable citizens;
  • Believe in workers’ rights and remove all “hurdles in the way of people” by setting up trade unions, co-operatives, workplace and community credit unions and friendly societies;
  • Set the minimum wage to the living wage and cap politician’s wages at the median wage;
  • An equal and free Ireland for all.
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