Having a solely rural voice in a farmers’ party will weaken its political influence, according to MEP Colm Markey.
“My concern about a farmers' party or an extremely rural agenda party is that it’s going to further polarise that debate.
“We are becoming a more urbanised society, so in order to have a voice for the rural aspect of that society, to have its voice, it really needs to work closely with those who aren’t from a rural background,” he said.
MEP Markey was responding to an Irish Farmers Journal survey finding that three in four farmers would give their first preference vote to a farmers’ party if one was formed ahead of the next general election.
The Midlands Northwest MEP insisted that for the rural voice to have an effective impact, it should collaborate closely with those from non-rural backgrounds.
Markey stressed that isolating the rural voice could weaken its political influence. He emphasised the importance of avoiding a situation where a small group with exclusively rural interests becomes “isolated from mainstream politics”.
“If you marginalise yourself as a small group with a solely rural voice, then you will leave yourself in a situation where you’re isolated away from mainstream politics and it actually makes your voice weaker,” he said.