Mr O' Connell said;
"Disadvantaged area payments are made to over 60,000 farming families who are placed under pressure by natural factors like being located in wet or mountainous land or being situated where preservation is required for tourism or environmental reasons. These payments not only benefit the farming community but are also the keystone that the rural economy is built on."
"Last year's record food and drink exports bill of almost €10 billion shows the important role that agriculture plays in our economy. Payments like the disadvantage scheme have been shown to be reinvested in the recipients local community whether it is through the local shop or used to hire or pay local trades people and service providers."
"Annual EU funding of €313 million has been secured by Ireland so the government must at least commit to match this over the next seven years as part of an investment in rural Ireland, which will secure jobs, prevent youth emigration and protect struggling communities."