Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 March 2018

MEP Harkin clips O'Leary's wings

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary

Ronnie Bellew

RYANAIR boss Michael O'Leary's call for an end to EU subsidies for small farmers is as "unacceptable as his recent jokes about the Queen" Independent MEP Marion Harkin has claimed.

"Michael O'Leary as a multi-millionaire hobby farmer is the last person who should be pontificating about the role of small farmers or the areas in which they live," she said.

"His dismissal of the role of small farmers beggars belief. His suggestion that they should receive no subsidies from the EU reveals his ignorance of the role played by these in sustaining the economic and social fabric of rural areas," added Ms Harkin.

She was responding to comments made by Mr O'Leary on Midlands Radio.

Better off

"I have long held the view, that not unlike New Zealand, that we would be better off with no subsidies," he said.

"It'd be easier for new entrants to get into business and to produce cheaper food. But it is not a popular view within farming circles, because they are wedded to these income subsidies," Mr O'Leary added.

EU farm subsidies need to be restructured claimed Mr O'Leary, who receives between €60,000 and €80,000 per year in farm payments from Brussels.

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"Whereas I am not a great supporter of rich people receiving subsidies, I also would be very opposed to very small people who are farming what are sub-economic units – 10 and 20ac farms – receiving subsidies," he said. "Ultimately, they can't survive and they can't make a living on those non-economic units."

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