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Taoiseach tells farmers that a new Agriculture Minister will be appointed next week

The Irish Farmers’ Association said a new minister is crucial to represent farmers’ interests in the context of Brexit.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin with former Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin with former Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

THE IRISH FARMERS’ Association (IFA) has said the Taoiseach has confirmed that a new Agriculture Minister will be appointed next week.

IFA president Tim Cullinan met with Micheál Martin last night, having sought a meeting following the resignation of Dara Calleary.

The looming threat of Brexit is still weighing heavily on Irish farmers, and the IFA emphasised the importance of the role Phil Hogan has as EU Commissioner of Trade in this context in its meeting with Martin.

The government is less than two months’ old, but already two agriculture ministers have come and gone.

Barry Cowen was fired from the job in July after it emerged he had had a three-month driving ban in 2016 for being over the legal alcohol limit. Calleary was chosen as his successor, but resigned last Friday in the wake of the infamous Oireachtas Golf Society event.

It was the Taoiseach, himself, who took temporary charge of the agriculture portfolio following Calleary’s departure. It had initially appeared as if it could take several weeks for a new minister to be put in place, as the Dáil had not been due to return until mid-September.

However, the leaders of the coalition parties agreed on Saturday evening that the Dáil should return earlier and it is now due to come back next week

Cullinan said: “We are very concerned about the disruption caused by the loss of two Ministers for Agriculture since the new government was formed, and reports that a new Minister would not be appointed for three weeks.

The Taoiseach confirmed to us this evening that he intends to appoint a new Minister next week

“We emphasised the importance of having a Minister in place to represent farmers on crucial issues such as CAP, Brexit and the national Budget in October.”

The IFA president said Irish agriculture has the most to lose from a bad outcome in Brexit talks, with over €4 billion worth of food exports going to the UK last year. A trade deal between the UK and EU has not yet been agreed, with the timeline left to secure one narrowing.

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He added: “In this context, we made the point to the Taoiseach that the Trade portfolio in the EU Commission is particularly important to Ireland.”

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Sean Murray

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