Friday 23 August 2019

Fine Gael is using Commissioner Phil Hogan as 'a scapegoat' over Mercosur – Dáil told

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Reuters
EU Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Reuters
John Downing

John Downing

The Government is trying to hide its failure to protect Irish beef farmers by “making a scapegoat” Irish EU Commissioner, Phil Hogan, the Dáil has heard.

Fianna Fáil renewed their attack on the Government amid continuing farmer anger about the EU trade deal with the four South American countries in the Mercosur. 

The draft deal includes access for 100,000 tonnes of beef imports, and other meats, from Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, which farm unions warn will not meet EU product and environmental standards.

Fianna Fáil deputy leader, Dara Calleary, said Irish product had to meet high standards which cost more than their future South American competitors. He again accused the Government of failing Irish farmers and rewarding those who cheat on environmental standards and deny the implications of climate change.

Mr Calleary then accused Fine Gael Ministers of trying to shift blame to their former party and government colleague, Phil Hogan, who is now EU Agriculture Commissioner.

"There are more Fine Gael tanks on Commissioner Hogan’s lawn today," the Fianna Fáil TD told the Dáil.

Replying for Government, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said the Government will defend all Irish farmers. "You are playing the man rather than dealing with the issue," she retorted.

Ms Doherty said it was "a headline deal" which had yet to be transformed into a legal text – and Ireland would defend export gains for many sectors while also ensuring farm and food standards were upheld.

"We are only at the very start of what will be a long process," the Minister said.

She added that in the coming years Commissioner Hogan would also be part of that process.

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