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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy to host EU Forestry expert at Co. Leitrim meeting

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Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy to host EU Forestry expert at Co. Leitrim meeting

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has announced details of a significant public meeting on the controversial issue of forestry that will take place in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim next Thursday, 21st of March.

The event entitled “Fighting the Land Grab!” will take place in the Bush Hotel at 7.30pm.

Among the guest speakers will be Kelsey Perlman of FERN, an EU-level organisation dedicated to protecting forests as well as the rights of communities living close to them.  Fern is the body responsible for a report published last month entitled “EU Forests in Danger” which highlighted management, biodiversity and community rights issues across 11 EU Member States and specifically highlighted the forest policy employed in County Leitrim as an example of worst practise.

Sligo-Leitrim TD Martin Kenny will also contribute to the event which will outline the flaws of Irish government forestry policy and present the alternatives that could and should be implemented.

Speaking in advance of Thursday’s meeting Matt Carthy, who has been a long-standing critic of the government’s forestry policies, said:

“A proper forestry policy, as advocated by Sinn Féin and organisations such as FERN, should be beneficial to the environment, good for the local economy and positive for communities.  The forest strategy, if you could be generous enough to call it a strategy, pursued by successive Fianna Fáil and Fine governments does none of those things.

“Rather than helping the environment forests in Leitrim have become ecological dead zones.  Peatland and animal nesting grounds have been transformed into fast-growing Sitka plantations subjected to clear-felling.

“There is minimal benefit to the local economy.  Farmers are being priced out of available land by foreign corporations and vulture funds availing of government and EU grants, tax breaks and low-cost loans. It’s a land grab – Pure and simple!

“All the while it is the local community that suffers as they watch their county change beyond recognition.

“It doesn’t have to be this way.  FERN is an organisation that supports the development of forests but they cite Irish government policy in general and its outworking in Leitrim in particular as an example of worst practise. Kelsey Perlman will present an alternative approach, one that actually works and one that doesn’t over burden one county or region with the full obligations of the state.  I urge everyone with an interest in rural and regional development to come along and participate in the discussion.

Carthy concluded by saying “Thursday’s event is an opportunity to inform the public about policies at a national and European level and how they can be changed.  The policies pursued by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have caused damage that won’t be easily undone.  So, we have to start by putting an end to the current land grab and proceed to delivering a forestry strategy that works for the environment, for the local economy and for communities.  Sinn Féin are committed to implementing this vision.  Thursday’s meeting will be an important step in achieving it.”

ENDS

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