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Editorial: In praise of the plough and rural pursuits

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The National Ploughing Championship. Photo: Arthur Ellis

The National Ploughing Championship. Photo: Arthur Ellis

The National Ploughing Championship. Photo: Arthur Ellis

The National Ploughing Championship, which opens today, is a timely reminder that rural Ireland is not dead and a clear affirmation, if one was needed, of what can be done by determined community spirit.

At a time when villages and towns are under threat as never before, denuded of their populations by emigration and the flight to the cities and lamenting the closure of local services like post offices and Garda stations and even pubs, the National Ploughing Championship is an example of how rural Ireland remains vibrantly alive.

The three days of farming, food and fashion is Europe's largest outdoor exhibition and agricultural trade show, attracting 200,000 visitors from all over Ireland, and some from abroad.

Farmers and their families will come to Stradbally in Co Laois to meet up with old friends, to look over the developments and innovations nd to celebrate a true indigenous industry, agriculture.

This year the show seems blessed by the balmy autumn weather that has been sitting over Ireland since the beginning of September.

The actual ploughing and the various sideshows and stands will occupy much of event, but some have said there is an edgier side to this year's event because of problems in the beef sector.

But it is to be hoped that this will not detract the huge attendance from the enjoyment of what has become one of the major social events of the Irish calendar.

It is also worth celebrating the driving force behind the 'ploughing' - Anna May McHugh, who has done so much to single-handedly create this great festival and celebration of rural life.

She is proof that with talent, determination and organisational skills women can succeed in Ireland. She is a living example that some people cannot, or will not, be held back from doing what needs to be done.

This spirit that pervades the Ploughing Championship is deeply rooted in rural Ireland. It is time that it spread throughout the villages and towns, so that they too will maintain the vital fabric of the Irish countryside.

 

Access to justice a price worth paying

The u-turn by the Courts Service on planned court closures in the Dublin region is a welcome one.Like all State bodies, the Courts Service has experienced severe budgetary restraints.

Almost 80 regional courts have been closed by the Courts Service since 2008 and its gross funding reduced by some 25pc since the onset of the recession.

Earlier this year Chief Justice Susan Denham warned that courts would face cancellation at short notice unless there were closures in Dublin.

But the Courts Service faced intense opposition from the legal and business communities.

Those parties warned that the social and economic cost of rationalisation in the country's largest legal district would outstrip any efficiencies gained by closing courts in highly-populated areas such as Tallaght, Swords, Balbriggan and Dun Laoghaire.

At heart, however, the plan posed too much of a threat to access to justice for the most vulnerable citizens in our midst - a scenario Irish society can not afford to allow.

Irish Independent