A new organisation focused on rural Ireland and the farming community has said that it will be “different” from other organisations, arguing that people in rural parts of the country, particularly in the west, are not being adequately represented.

The group, calling itself ‘Ireland’s Future’, was founded by Gerry Loftus, formally of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA). The group held a meeting at the Great National Hotel, Ballina, Co. Mayo, last Friday, November 29.

At that meeting, Loftus told the attendees: “We, in the west, and indeed across rural Ireland, are not being represented, either politically, agriculturally, socially or otherwise. We need much broader representation than just agriculture if rural Ireland is going to survive.

We have being underfunded by successive Governments the past 25 years, with all the investment going to the east and south.

The meeting saw a proposal to “campaign in total opposition” to a reduction in the suckler herd, and also against plans for planting forestry.

This proposal, according to a statement from Loftus, was “unanimously endorsed”.

The meeting also heard a demand for legislation to ban the planting of Sitka spruce trees.

“This must be done before the next election. A vote for Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael means a vote to wipe out rural Ireland,” Loftus claimed.

The new group also called for what it described as a “level playing field” across various sectors, stating: “We will no longer tolerate a dairy takeover of rural Ireland to make money for corporations.”

As well as agricultural issues, the group also seemingly has a focus on the health service in rural areas.

“Some 700 rural GPs will retire shortly with no replacements… Our health service is a shambles and there seems to be nobody in charge of what’s going on,” Loftus argued.

He said that the group intends to launch a campaign to demand a “complete reconstruction” of the health service.

Loftus added that the Government would be notified of the group’s requests this week, adding: “I would also like to make the Government aware that, should they ignore our requests, they will come to realise that this organisation is not a talking shop.

“We are prepared to take radical action, like blockades of our cities, ports and distribution centres. We have been too quiet for too long,” Loftus concluded.