Thursday, August 23, 2012

Government out of touch with rural Ireland – Sinn Féin

The Chairman of County Wexford Sinn Féin has hit out at the suggestion that capital assets should be included in assessments for the means test for student grant applications. Oisin O’ Connell said that the idea that farmers and the self employed can better afford to send their children to college is false and yet another attempt by the Fine Gael/Labour coalition to scapegoat a particular group in society and to turn ordinary people against each other.

Mr O’ Connell said;

“The idea that farmers or the self employed are better off and in a better position to send their children to college than PAYE workers or the unemployed is misleading,” Mr O’ Connell said. “According to the 2010 National Farm Survey commissioned by Teagasc the average income for farms in Wexford that year was €17,771 per annum. To put this in comparison with other sectors, the average industrial wage in this state is currently €35,486.88 per annum. The figures speak for themselves.”

“Fixed capital - and business assets such as inventory - should not be included in future means test assessments for student grant applications. For example, assets such as farmland are not liquid - and are necessary to continue economic production. So farmers cannot produce the needed cash to send their children to college unless they were to sell their land - which is the basis of their livelihoods. This proposition would be far easier said than done in the current economic environment anyway - and one that is directly opposite to the governments stated aim to keep as many farmers on the land as possible.”

“We have just experienced one of the worst summers on record. Crops have been destroyed or yields hammered, winter feed supplies depleted, and many farmers have been forced to rehouse their stock – hardly the time for the government to go on the attack against the farming community.”

“This is yet another attempt by this government to scapegoat a particular group in society - to turn ordinary people against each other in order to take the limelight off their own failures to govern properly.”

“The Fine Gael and Labour government is showing just how out of touch it is with rural Ireland with this proposal which will exclude many students of farming and small business backgrounds from availing of the student grant scheme, even if they come from households with low or distressed incomes.”

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