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Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation (Continued)

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1004 No. 6
Unrevised

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Matt Shanahan: Information on Matt Shanahan Zoom on Matt Shanahan] In addition, they are dealing with rising input prices for fertiliser and meat supplements. A frozen pizza in a supermarket, by weight, sells for more than Irish beef cuts, which is a tragedy for beef farmers. Will the Minister please look at introducing a beef exceptional aid measure scheme and for urgent action from the beef task force to try to get visibility on the pricing and supply chain?

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan The Deputy would say that I would say this but my colleague, the Minister of State, Senator Hackett, has just opened up the organic scheme. Approximately 500 or 600 farmers will be able to go into it. I mention it because I think that is the future for Irish farming, especially beef and lamb. It offers the prospect of reducing the input costs and increasing the price that we get on the market, which I understand to be patently clear, since one can see the price of one versus the other. Our food strategy is coming close to fruition now. I believe that it is in the interest of farmers to go in this green way because it is the best way of guaranteeing a price.

Deputy Matt Shanahan: Information on Matt Shanahan Zoom on Matt Shanahan Will it offset losses to farmers-----

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I ask the Deputy to sit down. The time for the question is over.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara On a point of order, the scheme is not open-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly That is not a point of order.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara The details are not even available yet. How could it be opened?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly That is not a point of order. There can be no more response to that.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I thank the Minister for meeting with the Tipperary groups last Friday night. It was a meaningful meeting with Jobs4Tipp, March4Tipp, Councillor Anne Marie Ryan and indeed the Tipperary Town Chamber of Commerce. They really appreciated it. I hope the Minister continues the collaboration in an effort to get the trucks out of the town with a ring road.

We have had bad weather in the last ten days in Tipperary. Areas of Tipperary, Cahir, Cashel, the Knockmealdowns and the Galtees were badly hit. I salute the outdoor staff and engineering staff but we need extra funding to deal with this outburst of water and flooding. It caused substantial damage and we need money for drainage. We acknowledge the annual funding we got but we need a top-up. I ask the Minister to look at it. He might meet Tipperary County Council following its request for a meeting. I thank the Minister for his meaningful involvement and look forward to the future.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan I thank the Deputy. I hope that I did not get myself or anyone else into trouble. I found the meeting useful and I commit to meeting Tipperary County Council about the issue. The meeting was about the issue of roads and I was particularly interested with my own roots being in that neck of the woods. Clear problems exist in Tipperary town because of the volume of freight traffic passing through. The roads programme that we signed off on two or three weeks ago contains more than €600 million in spending. I will look at any instance where weather conditions have caused a particular local problem but in my mind, it is well-provisioned. We have increased spending for repairs and maintenance to keep a steady state condition of our roads. I look forward to meeting Tipperary County Council about similar local issues.

Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice: Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice Over the past six or eight months, a court case was resolved regarding people who are entitled to a primary medical certificate. Following a lot of the usual spin doctoring from the HSE and Department of Health, this is open but people are not getting appointments. The HSE and Department are prioritising Covid and leaving people with disabilities unable to get a primary medical certificate. Does the Minister think it is right that we are treating people with disabilities this way and what are we going to do about it?

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan I understand that following a Supreme Court decision in June last year, the Minister for Finance requested that the assessment process for primary medical certificates be suspended. On the passing of the Finance Act 2020, which provided for the medical criteria in primary legislation, I understand that the Minister for Health instructed the HSE to recommence assessments from 1 January 2021. As the Deputy stated, there unfortunately were some delays in processing assessments due to the involvement of medical officers in the national Covid-19 response, as well as ongoing public health restrictions. The HSE is continuing to monitor the situation and I will bring the Deputy's comment and concerns to it following this question.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I call Deputy Martin Browne.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara I was on the list next.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I am not going to waste time. I have a list before me. Deputy Martin Browne is second on the list. That is all I can do. If Deputy Browne wants to give his space to Deputy McNamara, then so be it.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara There needs to be some degree of fairness. I have no intention of taking my seat.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Deputy McNamara is wasting time.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara I will ask my question because I took my place here at 9 a.m. yesterday to ask this question and I am here to ask the question.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I am not sure if there has been a mistake somewhere.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Deputy McNamara is wasting time. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae is at the top of the list before me. He is not here. Deputy Martin Browne is next and I call him.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara Deputy Browne had the decency to acknowledge that I was ahead of him. This is the second week running that this has happened.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I ask Deputy McNamara to resume his seat.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara I will not resume my seat.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I call Deputy Martin Browne.

Deputy Martin Browne: Information on Martin Browne Zoom on Martin Browne I raise the commitment in the programme for Government to reduce our carbon footprint. A lorry recently crashed in Shannonbridge and I have been informed that it was later discovered that the truck in question was carrying a consignment of wood pellets that had been imported all the way from Australia. I have sat in the Joint Committee on Agriculture and the Marine listening to how the Government has made decisions which have resulted in the horticultural sector being in danger and peat now being imported from elsewhere in Europe. How does any of this fit in with a sustainable green strategy, when imports are increasing along with all of the emissions that go with that? I think the Government is having a laugh with us with regard to our carbon footprint.

Why are restrictions being imposed on Irish industries before proper thought has been given to filling the gap which is left and the impact these decisions will have on Irish businesses? The just transition fund will do precious little for many in the horticultural sector. I thank the Minister for meeting people in Tipperary last week. At the next meeting, the Minister might meet all of the stakeholders involved.

Deputy Carol Nolan: Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan It makes no sense for peat to be imported, as Deputy Browne said. I received figures from the Department of the Taoiseach showing that €3.5 million worth of peat was imported into this country last year. We have workers who lost their jobs during a global pandemic. It is not right. Some 17,000 jobs, or more, are at risk. The midlands are suffering adversely. The Minister needs to take on board that the transition is not fair and counties such as Offaly are bearing the brunt of empty aspirations and rhetoric. People are losing their jobs and they have bills and mortgages to pay. I ask the Minister to wake up and take action.

Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice: Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice Peat is coming into Ireland from five countries around Europe. This situation is meant to be the same for everyone in Europe, but here in Ireland people cannot stir because of the environmental impact assessment, EIA, requirement for 30 ha. This situation must be addressed.

Deputy Matt Carthy: Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy This is clear evidence of tokenism rather than real environmental action. An ideological pursuit by some of the Minister's colleagues to try to eliminate the use of peat for horticultural activities has resulted in a situation where peat is being imported. We also face the very real prospect of jobs, such as those in the mushroom sector, being exported. We could lose a vibrant part of the Irish economy when there has been no real strategy put in place to find an alternative.

Deputy Richard O'Donoghue: Information on Richard O'Donoghue Zoom on Richard O'Donoghue I raised this issue about peat last week and about straw being put back into the ground by farmers.


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