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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘Crippling costs for feed, fertilisers and fuel have potential to wipe out many viable farms’

Independent TD, Mattie McGrath has accused the government of “being detached from reality and completely self-absorbed”.

The deputy made the remark in the Dáil earlier this week when expressing concerns over the rising cost of living.

During his address, he pointed to a recent EUROSTAT report from the European Commission.

It revealed that Ireland was the most expensive EU country when it comes to the cost of living. Prices in Ireland were found to be a staggering 40% higher than the EU average last year.

Commenting on the figures, the deputy told the chamber that “matters have worsened significantly since then, as we all know”.

Furthermore, the report also revealed that, astonishingly, the cost of housing in Ireland was 88.5% higher than the EU average and 88% higher for utility bills such as electricity and gas.

The average cost of food on the island of Ireland was 17% higher than in the EU27 countries. Milk, eggs and cheese were an average of 25% higher in cost, while fats and oils were 22% higher, and breads and cereals were typically 20% higher.

Despite Ireland’s crippling cost of living, the government has failed to act in any “meaningful way”, although EU governments have taken many measures to cut back on excise duties, he claimed.

He accused the Irish government of remaining “tone-deaf” on many issues, despite people “suffering”.

He told the Dáil: “As I said, the current cost-of-living crisis is financially crippling lower-income earners, including pensioners, struggling mortgage holders and, of course, the unemployed.”

“It is also having a disproportionate impact on all residents and farmers throughout the country,” he added.

The deputy then stressed that research has shown the impact of the crisis on rural dwellers has been “much higher”.

“We all know that from listening to people every day of the week. Rural communities and farmers face crippling costs for feed, fertilisers and fuel, which has the potential to wipe out many viable farms. That is the fact of it.”

Carbon tax and fuel prices

He pointed to the Rural Independent Group’s efforts to table motions on this matter, as have other groups.

He said the group tabled a Private Members’ motion last April asking the government to ‘axe the carbon tax’.

McGrath claims this move would put approximately €8,000 directly into every person’s pocket and knock off 10c/L litre from fuel prices by 2030. However, he said that motion was rejected.

The deputy told the house that the government brought in what he calls “an inept package”.

“It is trying to play a three-card trick on the people by bringing in these little measures while taking so much excise duty from every litre of fuel.”

“The public has copped on to this. The government is glowing because of the tax receipts it is getting on the back of people’s misery.”

“As I said, not since the British landlords, who turned their eyes the other way at the time of the famine, has any government been so harsh, so inept in dealing with the problems, and so uncaring about the people of Ireland. It is shocking,” he claimed during his closing speech.

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