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Smith praises key role of Irish Countrywomen's Association in Irish society

Speaking today at the centenary celebrations of the Irish Countrywomen's Association (ICA) in County Louth, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr. Brendan Smith T.D., highlighted the key role of the Association in Irish society and in particular, the huge role it continues to play in improving the lives of rural women and rural communities and indeed, in more recent times in urban areas. He referred to the very important role of women in agriculture and their prominence in artisan and local food production.  "Women play a key role in the agri-food sector which is our largest indigenous industry, with an annual output of €24 billion, and some 230,000 people dependent on it for employment", the Minister said.

Highlighting the central role of the ICA in momentous initiatives that delivered real and lasting social change, the Minister also referred to the successful campaigns run by the Association such as the right for women to vote, the rural electrification scheme and the rural water schemes, all of which have had a major impact on rural life, in particular.  He also referred to the important part played by the Association in adult education over many years.

"The Association has provided incredible support to Irish women over the century, particularly those in rural communities, although I do realise that you now have a presence in almost every village, town and city in the country.  I'm confident that your Association will continue to grow and it will continue to provide very valuable support to the women of Ireland", the Minister said.

In conclusion, Minister Smith congratulated the National President Ms. Anne Maria Dennison on her appointment to the Board of An Bord Bia. "her appointment is a very fitting recognition of the ICA which will now be able to input directly into the future direction and development of our vital food sector".

Date Released: 09 July 2010