'Farm income crisis must be tackled': Cahill
Published 01/03/2016 | 02:30
Farming was the forgotten sector during the general election campaign, newly elected Tipperary Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill has claimed.
"I've never seen all sectors of farming looking down a worst crisis," he said, adding the farm income crisis must be tackled along with other "key rural issues such as a lack of GPs and roads."
A former president of the ICMSA Mr Cahill said that there also has to be recognition that the anti-austerity left vote is increasing in Ireland.
On possible coalition arrangements, he said: "A lot of our members would be very anti signing up with FG, so any decision we make will have to go before the Ard Fheis."
His comments were echoed by Fianna Fáil's agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív, a poll-topper in Galway West.
He said that while all the focus was on a Fine Gael- Fianna Fáil coalition, there were many "possibilities" and it was a "golden opportunity for reform".
Carlow-Kilkenny FG TD and dairy farmer Pat Deering said government had done much for the farming sector, particularly with taxation measures, and it should have played a "larger part" in the election campaign.
"The slogan 'keep the recovery going' didn't resonate with the vast majority of people outside of Dublin," he said.
Agriculture minister Simon Coveney said there was no was now an onus on Fine Gael to form a new government.
Mr Coveney acknowledged that the Fine Gael election campaign didn't work - and he admitted that the results were "very disappointing".
The Cork TD also warned that, given the obvious difficulties in forming a new government, another general election may not be out of the question.
"The truth is that we did not get our message across in this campaign like we should have. We certainly did not win the argument."
Mr Coveney said that what was most disappointing for Fine Gael and Labour was that the coalition did "a lot of the heavy lifting" over the past five years in terms of restoring Ireland's economy.
He added: "We will have more TDs than any other party. More people voted for Fine Gael than any other party. So, yes, there is a responsibility on us to look to see how we can put a Government together."
"But that is not to say it is going to be an easy process."
Fianna Fáil's director of election Billy Kelleherwho topped the poll in Cork North central, said that while it was a great election for Fianna Fáil, the ballot also highlighted concerns for Ireland's future.
Mr Kelleher, who is also a farmer, warned that the great strength of Irish politics over the years has been the desire for consensus and the ability of parties to reach common ground for the overall benefit of the country.
"There is no doubt that the greatest threat facing Ireland is the emergence of class politics," he said.
ICMSA president, John Comer, said farmers and the vital agri-food sector would expect all responsible politicians to recognise the need for stability. He said the recovery has been "two-speed" and farmers were concerned with the crisis in farm incomes
ICSA president Patrick Kent said the outcome must serve as a sharp reminder that the concerns of rural people have not been addressed by Government.
Farming the forgotten issue in election campaign claims former ICMSA president returned for FF in Tipperary