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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
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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VIDEO: ‘People are sick to death of the phrase stabilisation of the national herd’

An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, and independent TD, Michael Healy-Rae, exchanged heated remarks in the Dáil earlier this week.

During the Order of Business on Tuesday, November 16th, deputy Healy-Rae asked Martin about family farms, the IFA’s upcoming protest and the national herd.

Farm incomes and national herd

In his opening remarks in the Dáil, he said: “In advance of Sunday’s family farm protest about farm incomes, it is extremely disappointing that the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine have failed again, despite calls from the likes of deputy Michael Collins and others in our group who have sought a debate in his House on the national herd.”

“The Taoiseach has brought a new term into the language: ‘stabilisation of the herd. This is more gobbledygook,” he claimed.

“What he means is the cut to the national herd. Why would he not call it as it is? People are sick to death of the phrase: stabilisation of the national herd.

“On the one hand, the Taoiseach and his Minister have said agriculture is the cause of the problem.”

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“On the other hand, they will not admit their solution, and that of their colleagues in the Green Party and Fine Gael is a cut to the national herd, which is a direct attack on family farm incomes.”

Family farms 

The deputy said this is why “thousands of people” will venture to Dublin on Sunday. “Will the Taoiseach be there on Sunday to listen to them and hear what they have to say?” he asked.

“The Taoiseach forgot about family farms by not getting…,” Healy-Rae said before Martin replied: “Sure I did, of course”.

In response, Healy-Rae said: “The Taoiseach let the cat out of the bag there. He thinks a lot about agriculture.”

In response, Martin said: “The cat is an essential part of the family farm, as the deputy knows. In any event…,”

“My God, if that is the best you can come out with,” said an angered Healy-Rae.

In response, Martin said Minister McConalogue, has travelled to “almost every mart in the country”.

“He has met farmers straight up; those who might agree with him and those who might disagree with him.”

He said the government’s feedback is that people have admired his honesty, forthrightness, and ability to be accessible to farmers.

Martin said McConalogue is “sincere” about the issue of making sure Ireland has sustainable farming into the future. He believes that this is the “correct approach to take”.

“In terms of the next decade and how we position food production in this country in a way that manages to reduce the carbon emissions, I think we have created a roadmap now for climate change and for sustainable farming that makes sense.”

Climate change

Martin then questioned the deputy’s view on climate change and that of the Rural Independent Group as a whole.

Martin said: “I know some people in the Rural Independent Group seem to be against the very concept of climate change and seem to be in climate denial.”

“I am not saying the deputy is, but I am saying others in his group are,” he said in the Dáil.

In response, Healy-Rae said: “I live in the real world,” which led Martin to question: “What is the real world? The real world is the world of climate change.”

Again, Healy-Rae asked: “Why are thousands of people coming to Dublin on Sunday?”

Ceann Comhairle, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, intervened and told the house: “We have to move on”.

Despite this, Martin and Healy-Rae continued to exchange remarks. Healy-Rae said: “Because they are worried.”

“I have no issue with people being worried. However, I can assure the deputy we need to be balanced in how we comment on it as well and not be given to sloganeering and making assertions that are not true. I have seen all his presentations on it,” he concluded.

Video from the Dáil:

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