Cllr. John Sheahan (Cathaoirleach of the Limerick County Council), Cllr. Kathleen Leddin (Mayor of Limerick) and Melanie Drea (Fairtrade Ireland) were joined by special guest Alfredo Ortega (Vice-Chair of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association - BSCFA) for the launch at Limerick County Hall in Dooradoyle.
The Limerick Fairtrade City Committee, supported by the Environment Section of Limerick City and County Council, is hosting a number of events and activities which it hopes will highlight both the good work and challenges faced by Fairtrade producers, farmers and supporters.
Earlier today, the official opening took place of the ‘Cotton on to Fairtrade’ photographic exhibition which features images of Fairtrade cotton farmers and cotton production in the West African nation of Senegal. The exhibition by British photographer Sean Hawkey remains on display at Limerick County Library until the end of March.
Meanwhile, the winners of the Limerick Fairtrade City Committee’s Poster Competition, entitled ‘The Power of You to create a Fairtrade Culture’, were also announced today at a ceremony in Limerick County Hall. First prize in the competition, which was targeted at schools and community development groups, was awarded to Geri-Anne Cornole (Catherine McAuley School). Mairead Keary and Mary Carey (An Mhodhscoil) and Róisin Murphy (Desmond College, Newcastlewest)
A number of other students received ‘Highly Commended’ Medals, namely Katie Krasnigi, Chelsea Hogan-O’Brien, Ciara Hannon, Abbie Long and Sophie Begley Corpus (Christi NS, Moyross); Holly McCarthy and Courtney Duggan (Scoil Fhionáin, Kilfinane); Alisha Roche and Divine Onyekaba (Our Lady of Lourdes NS, Rosbrien); Molly O’Brien (Scoil Mhuire, Broadford), Hannah Habington, Alice Feeney and Sarah Bryce (Knockea NS, Ballyneety), Chloe Hannan, Niamh O Connor, Molly McNamara and Laura Waddell (Scoil an Spioraid Naoimh, Roxborough); Alex Fitzpatrick (Donoughmore NS); Mark Carey and Jonathan Farrell (Catherine McAuley School); Patrick Mullane and Reece Collins (I-Scoil, Ballinacurra Weston); and Donal O Farrell (Brothers of Charity Services, Fairgreen).
Speaking at today’s launch of Fairtrade Fortnight 2013, Cathaoirleach Cllr John Sheahan congratulated Fairtrade suppliers and producers for their “tireless efforts to support small scale producers in developing countries.”
Mayor Kathleen Leddin commented: “Fairtrade is all about fairness in the trading system. It is great to see the enthusiasm of all the young people here today. Your creativity in promoting the Fairtrade message is wonderful to see. To all of the Limerick business people, shoppers and Fairtrade Committee thank you for continuing to keep Limerick City on the Fairtrade map.”
Dolores O’Meara, Chairperson of the Limerick Fairtrade City Committee added: “The theme of this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight - ‘the Power of You’ – highlights the power of consumers to instigate change. It reminds each and every one of us that we have a role to play in the global economy. We have a choice about how we spend our money. We can choose to spend it in an ethical manner that ensures that producers get a fair price that allows them a sustainable living. This is a challenge to us all to put an extra Fairtrade item in the shopping basket.”
The launch of Fairtrade Fortnight 2014 coincides with the publication of research conducted by Globescan, which has revealed that Fairtrade awareness and appetite in Ireland is at a high of 82% (this figure was second only to the UK). Sales across Fairtrade products increased by 15% from €174 million to €200 million in 2013, with a 21% rise in Fairtrade Banana sales, 14% rise in Fairtrade Coffee and 22% rise in Fairtrade Chocolate sales.
Meanwhile, Limerick City is this year celebrating its ninth year as a Fairtrade City. It was awarded the status in 2005 as a result of the concerted efforts by local people to ensure that Fairtrade produce was made widely available.
“Without our support, farmers in developing countries face a difficult and uncertain future,” explained Melanie Drea, Project Manager with Fairtrade Ireland.
She added: “Smallholders in developing countries are increasingly hit by fluctuating commodity prices affecting their income and the prices they pay for the food they buy themselves, rising production costs, and increasingly the impacts of climate change. Notwithstanding the ongoing economic recession in Ireland, Fairtrade continued to grow in 2013, and we look forward to the year ahead which will show how resilient Fairtrade is, and how companies are still committed to Fairtrade."
Meanwhile, the organisers of Fairtrade Fortnight have announced that a Fairtrade Table Quiz will be held on Thursday, 6 March 2014 in Fennessy’s Bar, New Street, Limerick at 8pm. €20 per tables of four.
For more information on other activities taking place during Fairtrade Fortnight, or to find out how to get involved, simply log on to www.fairtrade.ie or www.facebook.com/