CORK South West Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns has been appointed the party’s Agriculture, Marine, and Further Education spokesperson.
Holly said: ‘I am delighted to continue my role as spokesperson for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine. Having grown up on a farm, worked as a farmer, and studied horticulture in UCC, agriculture is the main reason I got involved in politics.’
She added that she would also be contributing to the Rural and Community Development portfolio, which now falls under the Department of Social Protection. ‘Like other rural TDs, I am worried about the downgrading of rural development, I will be concentrating on this as it is essential that clear funding schemes are put in place for communities.’
She also welcomed her additional role in the education portfolio. ‘Higher Education, Innovation and Science is a brand-new department and this is an opportunity to transform the sector and utilise the skills and knowledge of educators and students to help improve Ireland for everyone.
‘Higher and further education is an essential part of our society and economy, it needs to be resourced properly and we need to ensure that as many people as possible can access education at all levels. Young people and adult learners in West Cork are facing particular barriers with rising costs and expensive accommodation on one side, and poor broadband and insufficient public transport on the other. I will be focusing on practical issues like these.’
She added: ‘I’m a scientist and believe it’s so important that research addresses the major social and environmental issues we’re facing by learning lessons from this crisis to help in the face of the climate and biodiversity crisis.’