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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 20 May 1969

Vol. 240 No. 9

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Agricultural Population.


asked the Taoiseach the total number of people on the land (a) in the year ended 31st March, 1957 and (b) in the year ended 31st March, 1969; and the reasons for the decline.

The estimated number of persons at work in agriculture, forestry and fishing in April, 1957, was 414,000 while the latest available estimate, that for April, 1968, was 313,000 persons.

It would not be possible to isolate general reasons for this decrease.

In view of the fact that the figures now given to me by the Taoiseach indicate that over 100,000 people have left the land in the last 12 years, would he not now admit that, as far as agriculture and those living on the land are concerned, the Government's policy has been a complete failure?

I told the Deputy before that of all the OECD countries there are far fewer, percentagewise, leaving the land of Ireland than of any other country.

Is the Taoiseach aware that a previous Taoiseach who is now present, told the people that we could feed and give employment to 20 million people in this country, not three million? Does the Taoiseach remember that? I certainly do.

What I remember is the Fine Gael plan for dairy farmers and I intend to prevent its being introduced after the next election.

Fine Gael will be in power and our plan is to give employment to the small-farmers on the land of Ireland. Fianna Fáil's policy has driven 100,000 off the land of Ireland in the last 12 years.

Will the Deputy allow Questions to continue?

The figures are there.