Wednesday, 13 March 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Micheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
The Tánaiste did not answer my specific questions on specific applications for specific packages for beef farmers, for example. I am reading headlines in which the Tanáiste’s colleagues refer to calves now being sold in marts for less than 50 cent as the beef crisis reaches extreme levels. The Tánaiste and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Creed, know the beef sector is in crisis now. If what happened with Brexit over the last three days had not occurred, my exclusive focus today would have been on the current beef crisis. Brexit, and a no-deal scenario, have come along, however, and this goes to the heart of preparedness.
What package will be on offer to beef farmers if a no-deal Brexit emerges and these tariffs are applied? Can the Tánaiste give us the flesh and bone of such a package? Surely, there have been detailed discussions. We were led to believe the EU Commission has been alerted and that everybody is aware of the challenges. As part of preparedness, surely there have been detailed discussions between the EU Commission and Ireland on what financial and monetary packages would be available, in particular to our beef farmers, in the context of such a tariff regime. The beef sector is in deep crisis now and it will be in a worse crisis in the aftermath of the application of these particular tariffs.
We need specific answers on that. This Parliament not be meeting again until three days before Brexit day at the end of March. In the interests of transparency we need to have this fully fleshed out and for greater detail to be provided to the House on issues that are critical for many people.