Open forum have your say: Mary White TD
John Shirley is a fellow Carlow resident and someone whom I have a lot of regard for as a journalist and agriculture expert.
I have admired John's fair and balanced coverage of agricultural issues in the Farming Independent over the years, especially on the beef and cattle sector.
So I was extremely surprised and disappointed at his recent column where he made a series of unfair, misleading and, indeed, just plain wrong claims about the Green Party and its policies.
At the moment, the Greens are subject to a well-financed campaign of vilification and prejudice, involving unsubstantiated claims about several new initiatives that our ministers are pushing on. This campaign is attempting to scaremonger, with cynical, emotive claims, that some of these initiatives are an "attack on rural Ireland" or the "thin edge of the wedge".
As a rural dweller myself, nothing could be further from the truth.
These initiatives, such as those on dog breeding and animal welfare -- are designed to strengthen regulation, get rid of bad practices and enhance this country's reputation abroad.
I welcome an opportunity to set the record straight here and to correct some of John Shirley's assertions.
On the Dog Breeding Bill, it is designed to clamp down on illegal puppy farms. But the idea that the legislation is based on some kind of radical agenda is simply not true.