Margaret Donnelly: 'Leo said farmers were the lifeblood of our economy, but now they are feeling forgotten'
Rural Ireland firmly believes the Government has forgotten about it. While just 12 months ago, the Taoiseach said farmers were the heartbeat of rural Ireland and the lifeblood of the recovered economy, he seems to have forgotten a couple of important things, so it is little wonder he is far from popular among farmers at the moment.
Two years ago, the Irish Independent’s farming website, FarmIreland, interviewed more than 1,000 farmers at marts around the country on various topics of the day.
Just over 30pc of the farmers said if there was a general election in the morning, they would vote for Fine Gael.
However, when you strip back the top-line figures, a considerable proportion said at the time “all politicians are the same”, and the candidate was more important than the party.
Last week, I went to a farmers’ meeting in Williamstown, Co Galway.
One of the 60 or so farmers who turned up, and stayed until well after 11pm, made a very clear point about the short-term memory of politicians.
“We are all forgotten in the west of Ireland,” he said. “Why don’t the politicians remember us now, like they did during the economic crash?”
Many farmers interpret the continuous stream of reports on climate change as direct attacks from urbanites, who they feel know very little about farming.