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Friday 19 January 2018

Taoiseach Enda Kenny shoots from the lip in Virginia

Down with the kids! Taoiseach Enda Kenny poses for a selfie with Foroige members Aoife O'Reilly, Leah McCabe, Darragh McHugh and Ciara Tobin at the official opening of the Virginia Show Centre in Virginia, Co. Cavan on Friday afternoon Photo: Lorraine Teevan.
Down with the kids! Taoiseach Enda Kenny poses for a selfie with Foroige members Aoife O'Reilly, Leah McCabe, Darragh McHugh and Ciara Tobin at the official opening of the Virginia Show Centre in Virginia, Co. Cavan on Friday afternoon Photo: Lorraine Teevan.

Ken Whelan

The possibility of a Fine Gael and Fianna Fail coalition grew closer - at least in tongue in cheek fashion- when the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, brought up the topic at the official opening of the new €1m Virginia Show event centre in Cavan last Friday.

While addressing the Virginia Agricultural Society members and a slew of local politicians, including fellow cabinet member Heather Humphreys and former Fianna Fail Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith he departed from his prepared speech and pointing at his Fianna Fail adversary said: "This is a great building Brendan. We could hold a joint Ard Fheis here. What do you say?" Much to the amusement of his audience.

The event centre, which hosts the annual Diageo sponsored Bailey Champion Cow competition, numerous national breed shows, as well as the town's Pumpkin and Christmas festivals, was funded by Cavan/ Monaghan Leader and the fund-raising activities of the 200 strong Virginia Show membership.

Designed by Hanley Tait, a local architecture practice, it was pipped as the LAMA 2014 public building of the year by the Lexicon public library in Dun Laoghaire.

In another aside on rural Ireland the Taoiseach remarked that the future of rural posts offices might be secured if people in receipt of state pensions, welfare entitlements and other Exchequer payments transferred their entitlements to post offices rather than banks. Currently 75pc of all state and welfare payments to citizens are transferred to the banks.

There was a small (six individuals) and peaceful anti-water charge protest staged at the entrance to the new events centre during the Taoiseach's visit.

EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan will finalise the rural development budget under the current CAP agreement by mid May, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny has stressed.

Mr Kenny also insisted development plans of LEADER companies will be an important element of the approved funding programme which will run to 2020, with available money to be used to fund agri and related job creating projects which the Taoiseach said would stem the flight from rural Ireland caused by the current economic crisis.

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"I'm from the land of Davitt and I know about emigration.

"There is not a home in my home country that does not have a relative working in a foreign land," he told a packed audience at the official opening of the new events centre of the Virginia Agricultural Society in Co Cavan last Friday

The €1m events centre, which was funded to the tune of €500,000 by the Cavan/Monaghan LEADER company and Breffini Integration Ltd, is the venue for the annual Diageo Bailey Cow competition and numerous national breed societies shows, as well as hugely successful Pumpkin Festival.

The 200 strong membership of the Virginia Agriculture Society, which has been running and agriculture show in the town for over 70 years, raised the remainder of the required finance through various local fund-raising schemes.

The Taoiseach, who described the new centre as a "brilliant building which speaks for itself,'' said the new EU/Exchequer rural development round would lead the fight-back by rural Ireland in terms of jobs and enterprise .

It would also ensure that the "fabric of rural Ireland'' would be maintained, he said.

John Toland of Breffini Integrated Ltd, said the centre, was a perfect example of the type of "bottom up project" for which the LEADER programme was designed.

Indo Farming