'Phil Hogan can shove his €1bn where the sun don't shine'

Michael Fitzmaurice
Michael Fitzmaurice
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The €1bn support packaged EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has secured for market supports for the agri sector has been severely criticised by opposition TD in the Dail today.

Michael Fitzmaurice said the possible impact of the Mercosur deal is more than the 100,000 farmers it could affect.

"The €1bn that Phil Hogan has secured, he said, that is going to save 27 countries in the whole of Europe. Let's remember that our exports on beef alone are worth over €3bn. So Phil can shove his €1bn where the sun doesn't shine because it will not save our beef industry. We need to put a floor under it.

"We need to believe that people are more important than winking and nodding to other bureaucrats in Europe that go out and do deals. We have to stand up for our people in each part of the country and now is our hour of need."

Fitzmaurice said the Mercosur deal would see beef being hauled half way around the world all in the name of climate change.

"People talk about Mercs for meat. The first thing we need to do before we talk about climate is talk about people. Talk about families. Talk about livelihoods. Talk about living. Talk about communities. Talk about areas in rural Ireland that need to survive."

He said there are 100,000 farmers relying on the beef sector, but an "awful lot of farmers" put bread and butter on their own table and others.

"...an awful lot of farmers put bread and butter on the table, not just for their families, but also for the shop keeper and butcher down the road, the local hardware merchant. That's what we must remember. This isn't just about the 100,000 (farmers).

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"What are we going to do? Make a theme park out of the west of Ireland or indeed the rest of Ireland because we're the green, clean economy and let someone else produce the stuff (beef)."

There seems, he said, to be an agenda driven by Europe that Ireland will plant a lot of this country and forget about this type of farming.

The debate happened today during a motion of the EU-Mercosur trade agreement and the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said today's vote is totally meaningless as we are not at a stage where we have a legal agreement. He also said Ireland would be better to use the intervening time to shape and influence the detail of the deal.

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