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pounds 10bn bill to help develop rural Ireland.

THE government has pledged to pump pounds 10bn into rural Ireland.

The cash will be spent in the agri-food sector to ensure families can continue to live on the land.

Yesterday, junior farm minister Noel Davern launched the blueprint for the seven-year development plan in Athlone.

Described by government spin doctors as a "long-term vision statement" for rural Ireland, the document pledges to re-distribute the Celtic Tiger's wealth throughout the country and to focus investment on disadvantaged country areas in particular.

Minister Davern revealed that all government policies would undergo "rural proofing" to identify their knock-on effects on the regions.

He said: "For the first time in the context of rural development there is an expression of government policy on the needs of rural communities.

"The maintenance of a healthy agriculture sector is essential for rural development strategy.

"Agriculture will remain critical to the well-being of the rural community and we will guarantee pounds 10bn for the sector up to 2006."

The minister also said the Department of Agriculture and Food would be re-named to include the specific portfolio of rural development.
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Author:Leslie, Neil
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 18, 1999
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