Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Impact of Peat Shortages on the Horticultural Industry: Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

Photo of Paul DalyPaul Daly (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister of State and Mr. Lucas. As Deputy Collins said, coming into the fray so late in the game, a lot of what I had intended to ask has already been asked. That is not to say I would be over the moon about the answers that were given to some of the questions. I have lost count of how many meetings we have had on this issue. The submissions we received from guests on each occasion, irrespective of what Department or area they are from, are a rehash of working group and interim reports. All the time, there is an industry on its knees and there is the contradiction of the carbon leakage that is the importation of peat when we have peat here.

Irrespective of your political allegiance or feelings on the environment, we are all well intentioned in that regard and we all have the same agenda, including the electorate and the man and woman on the street. Day by day, we are frustrating and losing them more and more. This issue is another example of that. Any of the people in the horticulture industry who are going to try to stay in the game and work with this imported peat will have excessive costs placed on them as opposed to what they previously had. Where will those costs end up other than on their product which will end up on the shelves. It is the ordinary man and woman on the street who will pay through the nose for this lunacy or else they will not be able to get Irish vegetables on their shelves at all. It is the vegetables, if not the peat, that will then be imported.

We have talked about whether it is a Green Party agenda or whose baby it is but there is a line in the second last paragraph of the Minister of State's submission that refers to the working group and interim report. It states:

In that regard, and following on from the receipt of the interim report, the Departments of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, of the Environment, Climate and Communications, and of Housing, Local Government and Heritage are working on a suite of measures as regards the situation in the horticultural industry.

I want to know what that suite of measures is. What is the Government proposing? Will a workable solution be put in place, as Deputy Fitzmaurice has asked, before the peat harvesting season commences next April?


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