Dáil debates

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Security: Statements


5:15 pm

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary, Independent)

I, too, wish to contribute this evening. This is one of the most phony, disrespectful and dishonest debates we have ever had in this House. For ten weeks, and with the support of Sinn Féin and others, whose support I acknowledge, I have been looking for this debate. The issue of the national maternity hospital arose two weeks ago and a debate was scheduled earlier today. Debates on anything at all have been scheduled before the debate I requested. Has the Government completely lost interest in Irish agriculture? That is the way the Government is treating agriculture.

The Minister has his head in the sand. I mean no disrespect to him personally. The Green Party Minister has him. Farmers are being blackguarded. Non-governmental organisations, from An Taisce down, are tormenting and plundering the land and family farms out there. It is shocking. We will not know our farming industry.

Forestry is a complete mess. The Minister did it deliberately. I could mention all the other affected sectors one by one. There is a pig crisis that shows why this debate is dishonest. There has been a crisis in the pig sector for two years. The first five minutes or more of the Minister's speech was all about the war. The war is horrific, but all these problems were here before the war. I ask the Minister to be honest with himself, us and the people he is supposed to represent.

I am told the Minister can hardly go back to Donegal to meet the farmers and that is why he is at every mart in the country, from Mizen Head to God knows where; everyplace else. All these problems existed before the war. Representatives of the pig sector came to the Minister months ago. They openly wept. These are farming men and proud people who gave employment. They had pig farms and saw them go down the drain. They thought the Minister understood what to do for them. They wanted €100 million - €50 million in supports and €50 million to be borrowed. What other group of people during the pandemic agreed to borrow anything and pay it back? The Minister gave them a paltry €7 million. He is out of touch. I cannot believe the Government's backbenchers are so out of touch. I cannot believe the Government would abandon our primary industry and allow it to be thrown to the wind at the whim of the Green Party. Deputy Leddin, who spoke earlier, is delighted about the high price of fertiliser because it meant farmers will not use it.

Many towns, villages and cities are pumping out raw sewage. The Government has closed its eyes to that but is persecuting, demonising and blackguarding the farmers, saying that they are doing this. False figures are being produced. This is a phoney debate and the media is 100% behind it. One cannot criticise it. If we have a referendum, a Fianna Fáil Senator wants RTÉ not to give one side of the debate the same amount of time as the other. What next? The Government is trying to perish our people. I do not deny climate change but what the Government is doing is going to frighten the people. It is destroying our industries and is reckless.

The Greens got their answer in Northern Ireland and they will get it here, very soon. They were banished up there and they were banished here back in 2011 because of all the damage they did. Now, they have so many NGOs appointed. Imagine, there are 36,000 NGOs costing €5.5 billion a year and they are destroying our people, our country, our land, our industry and above all, our heritage. It is a shocking indictment of this Parliament the way power has been abdicated to these NGOs. The tail is wagging the dog here with the Green Party and their green agenda. The sooner they are gotten rid of out of this Parliament, the better. Then we can go back to some kind of normal, decent politics and understand our people. They can go and quash every other sector like housing and so on but farming must be protected and cannot be under siege the whole time. Deputy Collins said that the British landlords were not as bad at the time of the Famine. Cromwell was not as bad when he said “To hell or to Connaught”. The Greens want "To hell or to nowhere".


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