The Chairperson of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee, Jackie Cahill wrote to An Taoiseach Micheál Martin this morning highlighting his pressing concerns for the future of the horticulture, mushroom growing and nursery industries in Ireland. This was on foot of a committee hearing yesterday afternoon in which department officials from separate government departments appeared before the committee to answer questions on the blanket ban on peat harvesting in Ireland resulting in peat importation from the far side of Europe.
Following the Agriculture Committee meeting yesterday afternoon, where Cahill stated he was ‘horrified’ by comments made by department officials, Deputy Cahill wrote to the Taoiseach this morning stating that the current peat importation policy is “achieving nothing in the battle against climate change as peat is still being harvested elsewhere and then shipped across the continent. All this is going to do is force industries to relocate out of this country, resulting in the loss of economic activity and jobs in rural Ireland.”
During a lively Agriculture Committee meeting yesterday afternoon, Cahill responded to a department official who had stated that the importation of peat will have to remain part of the solution to peat shortages nationally saying: “Just because it’s taking place doesn’t mean it’s right. I actually thought I misheard you earlier when you said that, and I didn’t want to interrupt you.
The Cathaoirleach continued to say: “To concede that importation is part of the solution here is absolutely inexcusable from a department official. I’m horrified to say that we are going to concede that we can’t produce peat here for organic industries.
“You better go back to the blackboard because what you’re saying here today is not a solution. I know we have to go back to our ministers and back to the ministers we will be going. What we are hearing here today is totally unacceptable”, the Tipperary TD concluded.
The Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary has pressed the Taoiseach to intervene as a matter of absolute priority as the country approaches the ‘eleventh hour’ in relation to this issue. Cahill has shared his concerns with the Taoiseach regarding the relocation of the mushroom growing industry out of Ireland, with a resulting loss in jobs and economic activity in rural Ireland, if action is not taken now.