Wednesday, 10 July 2019
EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement: Motion [Private Members]
I know the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, to be a sincere person. In all my dealings with her since my election to this House in 2016 I have found her to be sincere. I do not believe she believes in the address she made to us today. She keeps telling the House that it is not a done deal. However, she emphasised strongly that it would be introduced on a phased basis and would not be operational until 2028. She emphasised that the deal would not commence for two years. She emphasised strongly that these boys wanted 300,000 tonnes of beef coming in and that the EU side had brought it down to 99,000 tonnes. What does that tell me and my colleagues? Does it tell the farm families of Ireland that the Government has decided to go with this deal? Excuse the pun but the Government is making the beef sector the sacrificial lamb. That is the reality; it is taking a gamble.
There are 6,000 farm families in County Roscommon and a few thousand more in the part of County Galway I represent. I spoke recently to farmers in Ballygar and Williamstown on the Roscommon-Galway border. They all tell me that they believe their options are selling or using their land for forestry. The Government is about to get the biggest hop it has ever got with this deal. The farming community will take it on and fight it on this issue.
Overwhelmingly, the House does not agree with the deal. Government Members should do the right thing and support the motion. We should move forward united to get a better deal. We are not against the trade deal, but we want a better deal for rural communities and farmers. The Minister should remember that this applies strongly in her constituency, particularly to the poultry sector. It also applies to the pigmeat sector. Government Members should take away their objections and support the motion in order that we can work together to get a better deal.