Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy has said that the new Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue needs to get straight to work to address the very real and big concerns affecting Irish family farmers.
Speaking today, Teachta Carthy said: “Since June, there has technically been five Ministers for Agriculture as farming communities have been taken the brunt of the chaos that has been the hallmark of this government.
“I congratulate Charlie McConalogue on his appointment as Minister for Agriculture and the Marine.
“He needs to get straight to work. The distractions of government formation and the subsequent resignations of Barry Cowen and Dara Calleary have meant that there has been a lack of focus for several months on the very real challenges facing Irish farmers.
“Since the new government has come into place, there hasn’t been a single opportunity for the Agriculture Minister to be questioned in the Dáil.
“Irish agriculture is facing unprecedented challenges over the coming months from the prospect of a Brexit fallout, the ongoing Coronavirus implications, impending EU trade deals such as with the Mercosur block, and upcoming CAP negotiations.
“We need the government’s attention to be focused on delivering in these areas, and on other policies that protect families and workers during these turbulent times.
“Until now, there has been no evidence that they are up to that task, particularly in the area of agriculture.
“Therefore I hope that Minister McConalogue will be willing to engage with me as the lead opposition spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and Marine, to deliver solutions to the concerns of Irish family farmers.
“Our family farmers need to see policies and measures that will deliver fair prices, a fair CAP and fair play. For our part, Sinn Féin will engage constructively with government to provide the legislative proposals to do just that.
“We will hold the minister and government to account when they don’t act in the best interests of family farms, and our rural communities.
“The new minister and the government now need to move beyond the distractions and focus on those issues that matter to our farming families, including facing down the stranglehold of the meat factories and multinational retailers.”