Taoiseach Enda Kenny has moved to assure Roscommon residents that there will be no “land grab” to move part of the county into Westmeath.
It comes as a boundary review committee is considering a recommendation to extending the Westmeath boundary to incorporate Monksland and other parts of south Roscommon which has been fiercely opposed by residents.
Fine Gael candidate Maura Hopkins previously said she was prepared to vote against Government on the issue. Speaking to the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) executive council, Mr Kenny said the recommendations were not binding and moved to play down the possibility of parts of Roscommon moving to Westmeath.
The Taoiseach also called on farmers to take advantage of the tax relief for family transfer partnerships announced in Budget 2016.
He said: “The earlier this can be done the better; it assists the inter-generational transfer of farms in a far more structured way. How many times have we seen in the past where nothing was done and then, unfortunately, a tragedy or a death happened and things weren’t of the nicest kind in a lot of cases?
“Farming families discussing what’s going to take place in the next five, or 10 years, this is an essential part of it and it’s a very serious part of it.”
John Hanley, Roscommon IFA chairman questioned Mr Kenny on the “land grab going on from our county by another county”.
“If 7,500 and 7,000 people are taken out of the county it will be the ruination of it financially,” he said.
Mr Kenny reassured him that the statutory review is not binding and the minister could overrule any recommendations.
“This is an issue that is of considerable sensitivity, but I just want to stress that it is not binding.”
The Boundary Review Committees were appointed in June 2015. The date for submissions for the Athlone area closed on 27 January and the Committee will be examining those submissions received. They are not due to report to the Minister until 31 March.
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