The President of ICMSA has responded furiously to remarks made in the Dail yesterday by Mick Wallace, TD, when the Wexford independent described Irish dairy and beef sectors as a “short-sighted cash generator” and lumped our farming and food industries in with coal-mining and gas-fracking. Pat McCormack said that not alone was Deputy Wallace’s comparison deliberately misleading and completely wrong, it also represented, according to Mr. McCormack, “the single most brass-necked instance of selective memory and hypocrisy that anyone unfortunate enough to have heard it would be able to recall”. Mr. McCormack said that Deputy Wallace was one of the most high profile personifications of an industry that just a decade ago had driven Ireland’s economy off a cliff and put €40-odd billion of debt on the citizens, broken up thousands of families through emigration, driven people to illness and worse, left hundreds of incomplete and depopulated ‘ghost estates’ all over state and had, in short, brought our state – the state in which he now sits as a member of the legislative body – to the very edge of survival reducing it to an economic and psychological rubble from which we have only recently emerged.
“In 2009 and 2010, after banks and property developer colleagues had wrecked and bankrupted this country, it was the farm families of Ireland and the food sector they built and supply – the only productive sector left standing after the developer-caused explosion – who worked and produced and slowly inched this state back to economic stability. It was strategies like ‘Food Harvest’ and ‘Food Wise’ that showed that we could rebuild a real economic sector and when our national reputation was destroyed by the catastrophic miscalculations and recklessness, it was our food sector and our superb, sustainably produced food that very carefully rehabilitated our reputation in international markets. We were the ‘Last Man Standing’ after the developers and failing banks had mowed their way across the Irish economy and to hear Deputy Wallace thrash the very sectors who had played the biggest part in rescuing our country from the wreckage will strike many of us as the single most brass-necked and hypocritical comments that the Irish public have heard in a very long time”, said Mr. McCormack.
“Farming – certainly family farming on the Irish model that we might have assumed Deputy Wallace might be familiar with from his background – is not destructively extractive like coal mining or fracking, and farmers are, and have been, the most vociferous opponents of environmentally destructive sectors like mining, fracking and, indeed, unsustainable and badly planned construction projects of the type every single reputable expert identifies as one of our greatest environmental problems. We all have challenges as we deal with environmental change and Irish farmers will face them and deal with them as we deal with every other problem. We don’t run away, we don’t change career and deny previous existences, and we certainly believe in the old principle that you examine your own record before you begin lecturing anyone else”, said the ICMSA President.
Ends 7th February 2019
Pat McCormack, 087-7608958
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office