Saturday 24 February 2018

A Minister's highs and lows

With the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and The Marine one of the most important portfolios in the Irish government, The Corkman is following Minister Michael Creed to see how hectic it is in his job

'Tell me why I don't like Mondays' Bob Geldof once pondered. Perhaps he foresaw my Monday morning, which brought with it newspapers packed with the demise of the Irish fishing industry on the front pages, and Cork's defeat to Kerry the day previous on the back!

I bunkered into my Macroom office for the day briefing colleagues on the implications of the UK's decision to withdraw from the 1964 London Fisheries Convention. I didn't entertain any football chat.

There were media interviews also, including a piece with Drivetime on RTE.

The mood was a whole lot better on Tuesday as I returned to Cork County Hall for a meeting with management. It was good to meet some old friends and colleagues, but there was business to attend to also.

While events in Dublin focused on the visit of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, the eyes of the dairy world were turned to Moorepark Fermoy for Teagasc's Dairy Open Day. There weren't many fancy socks on view as thousands turned out for what felt like Electric Picnic for Dairy! I enjoyed the visit so much that I overstayed my scheduled visit by a number of hours which led me to missing out on my opportunity to have dinner with Mr Trudeau in Dublin Castle. I enjoyed a sandwich and an orange on the wheel of a tractor instead!

Wednesday and Cabinet up first, a change from its usual Tuesday time slot. Managed to squeeze in a quick photo shoot in Stephen's Green as part of the launch of the annual progress report of Food Wise 2025 before returning to the Dáil chamber in time for Leaders' Questions.

I returned to the Department to be informed that a demonstration (which is still ongoing) had begun in reception.

In the afternoon I took a phone call from the UK Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove MP. Fisheries and Brexit dominated what was a wide-ranging discussion.

Sitting in on the weekly Fine Gael Parliamentary Party meeting brought the curtain down on an interesting day in the office.

Thursday was International Danone Day, no less, and I duly celebrated with a visit to their Deansgrange offices to meet with the team there. I quickly pointed out to all, though, that the real work is done in Macroom in their processing plant there!

In the afternoon it was voting in the Dáil and a meeting with Meat Industry representatives in the Department. The current economic situation was on the agenda for a special Cabinet meeting arranged in the evening which meant it was a late departure from Dublin.

I'm fortunate to to be invited to many different events as Minister, but Friday morning's visit to George Kelly's farm to meet all those involved with the Kerry Social Farming Project must rank as one of the most fulfilling. The enthusiasm, good will and affection shared by all involved was something to behold and an incredible treatment to the social farming model.

Alas, I had to leave the fun in the afternoon to attend to constituency business in the Ballincollig office.

Later in the evening I was a guest in Curraheen Park Greyhound Stadium for an event hosted by the Munster Showjumping Society. Yes, you read that right - showjumping at a greyhound track, and I can tell you it's an excellent use for a fine facility.

On Saturday, after an early feed of rugby, I had a thoroughly enjoyable day in Barryroe for the annual agricultural show. It was a relaxed occasion with plenty of opportunity to chat with committee members and show participants in glorious West Cork sunshine.

I got home from Barryroe just in time to join in the lively celebrations well underway for my son's birthday party.

On Sunday it was all roads to Thurles for the Munster Hurling - an occasion only superceded by the result, which made the misery of Monday morning seem a like a distant memory!


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