Sinn Fein Councillor, Sheamus Greene, succeeded in getting two motions passed at his party’s recent Ard Fheis through The Fergal O’Hanlon Cumann, of which Councillor Greene is a member.

The two motions will help bring about much needed “rural proofing” according to Councillor Greene. The first motion calls for the recognition of the value of a Rural Parliament and the setting up of a working group to take forward the initiative.

“I wanted to raise the inequality that rural people feel they have endured at the hands of Government Departments,” he told the Impartial Reporter.

“When trying to think of solutions to this I saw that Finland, Sweden and Scotland had a Rural Parliament model which highlighted rural issues. This was achieved by having the relevant farming groups, rural groups, and Government Departments all in the one place at the one time discussing Rural/Agricultural issues and coming up with solutions. The Rural Parliament I would hope would meet at least once every year,” he said, before adding.

“By doing this we will force the relevant authorities to take rural people and their issues seriously. Rural Ireland and it’s people have been quiet long enough.”

The second motion brought forward called for the copper fastening of rural proofing through the extension of the Rural Needs act that was brought in by the Department of Agriculture and Regional Development in 2016.

The motion calls on this to be rolled out to a “wider range of statutory, community and voluntary organisations” while it also states that it should be “internalised within the decision-making process of Sinn Fein”.

Greene says that his Cumman want to see “all the relevant authorities and groups including my own party Sinn Féin Rural Proof all decisions in the future. I feel this hasn’t always been the case. Urban issues seem to receive preferential treatment” he said before concluding:

“Someone once said that Stormont was an Assembly for greater Belfast, now I don’t fully agree with that statement but it holds some truth I believe.”