Revealed: How much the Government spent on tents, design, tickets to attend Ploughing 2019

Justified spending: Agriculture Minister Michael Creed at the Ploughing earlier this year. Photo: Arthur Carron
Justified spending: Agriculture Minister Michael Creed at the Ploughing earlier this year. Photo: Arthur Carron

Gordon Deegan

Government departments and agencies spent more than €780,000 on costs associated with attending the National Ploughing Championships this year.

Record numbers attended the event, with 297,000 descending on the venue at Fenagh, Co Carlow, for all three days.

New figures provided by Government ministers in response to a series of written Dáil questions by Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen show that a total of €783,174 was spent by Government departments and agencies attending the event this year, with marquee rental making up a good portion of the costs.

The final figure will be even higher as a small number of Government departments, including Defence and Housing, were unable to provide figures, while figures from agencies under the aegis of the Department of Agriculture will be forwarded to Mr Cowen at a later date.

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The spend by the Government agencies includes €58,842 by the Central Bank and €27,280 by the Revenue Commissioners under the aegis of the Department of Finance.

The ministers confirmed the total spend by departments and agencies under their aegis amounted to €2.24m over the past four years.

The largest spend this year was by the Department of Agriculture, totalling €184,576. This included a spend of €159,495 on the design, build, fit out and dismantling of the department marquee.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said an additional €12,868 was spent on tickets to the National Ploughing Association (NPA), €6,642 on broadband network costs and €5,571 on promotion and advertising costs.

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In his written Dáil reply, Mr Creed said: "The National Ploughing Championships is a very significant event in the farming calendar and provide my department with the opportunity to interact on a face-to-face basis with the farming community.

"For the duration of the event, my department operates a fully resourced office on site.

"Farmers are able to have direct access to specialist staff, with access to relevant IT systems, who can answer any queries or resolve issues they may have."

There are 12 bodies under the aegis of the Department of Agriculture and Mr Creed said those figures would be sent on to Mr Cowen later this month.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health spent €84,219 this year, while Rural and Community Development Minister Michael Ring confirmed his department spent €104,394 on the Ploughing Championships including €82,186 on stand rental and marquee costs.

Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht Minister Josepha Madigan confirmed that her department's spend this year totalled €91,904 and €337,562 over the past four years.

Separately, Communications, Climate Action and Environment Minister Richard Bruton said his department spend at the ploughing this year totalled €124,563.

Mr Bruton stated that his department's attendance at the Ploughing Championships was an important means to engage with the public.

He said that it enabled citizens to meet department representatives and its various agencies on issues such as rural connectivity, soil and geological profiling of land, sustainability initiatives, energy efficiency grants and schemes.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed that the spend by the Central Bank in attending this year was €58,842.

The spend by the Revenue Commissioners was €27,280.

The enthusiastic support of Government departments and agencies for this year's Ploughing Championships will have come as a relief for organisers and managing director Anna Marie McHugh after Storm Ali last year left the event nursing losses of €494,370.

The National Ploughing firm, The National Ploughing Association of Ireland Company Ltd, incurred the sharp rise in losses after revenues decreased by 12pc from €5.6m to €4.97m.

Irish Independent

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