Alarm bells over Green agenda
Their aims may be noble but Gormley and Co are not our friends
All of us have some 'green' ethos in us. Like motherhood and apple pie, we are all in favour of a clean environment, safe food and an Earth that will continue to flourish. Even Bertie Ahern said that Green Party objectives were aligned with his own when he brought them in as partners into Government.
Green voters are middle class and urban. They have a holistic view of farming and food production. From the start of their term in Government the Greens, through their preoccupation with food and the environment, have had farmers in their sights.
But has the advent of the Greens in Government been good for farming? I fear not.
I have heard some Green members argue that their party has had minimal influence on policy for the past two years. I would argue the opposite. I see a Government following a Green agenda and most of the original thinking coming from the Greens.
Green deputies have key Government portfolios. Environment Minister John Gormley is forever making news. Former minister of state Trevor Sargent is obviously a highly principled man who made an error of judgement that cost him his job, but while in the Department the green agenda was pushed. Some of this was OK. Some is potentially damaging, but he was liked.
The same cannot be said for Minister Gormley. He has alarmed the IFA over his efforts to bring in farm inspectors from county councils under the Nitrates Directive.
Another layer of farm inspections on top of cross compliance, REPS and quality assurance is worse than unnecessary duplication. It shows an amazing lack of awareness of costs and of fair play for farmers. Already some county councils have taken on vets that have little to do other than put down the odd stray dog.
The destruction of REPS cannot be solely attributed to the Greens but here was a chance for them to show their environmental bona fides when REPS was threatened. However, not a murmur was heard from them.