Let them eat cheese -- the charity handout begins
IT is the cheese mountain that has been lauded by the Government as gouda news at a time of economic catastrophe.
Some 53 tonnes of cheddar were yesterday made available to charities around the country as part of a massive European Union scheme for the poor.
Organisations are this week expected to start collecting the 12kg boxes of cheese from five special distribution points.
When Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith announced the latest tranche of the scheme at the start of the month -- at the same time as the public was digesting the prospect of €6bn of cuts -- he was dismissed for his timing and presentation.
Yesterday, five distributors in Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Portlaoise, Co Laois were preparing the packs of 1kg cheddar bricks.
Bill Fleming, the managing director and owner of Trailercare Holdings, Clondalkin, west Dublin, is confident that the 1,566 boxes of cheese in the Dublin store -- totalling 19 tonnes in weight -- will soon be taken up by charities.
"Because of the economic climate and the people in hardship, I think at this time it is going to be a bit busier now," Mr Fleming said.
Charities apply for the batches of cheese and are given a permit which is passed on to the supplier.
The free cheese scheme -- or "programme for food aid" -- has been in operation since 1987 as a reaction to harsh winter conditions. This year, Ireland received €818,816 for the scheme.
But it did not come to public attention until Mr Smith said cheese was a "good, nutritious product" and a "good Irish product" that would be "helpful to those people who are most in need" during a now infamous radio interview, provoking ridicule in the process.