Government TDs hit back as Mary Lou McDonald pitches Sinn Féin to farmers

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue said Sinn Féin has not "offered a single fresh or original idea", while the Green Party also critcised their rivals' record on climate change.
Government TDs hit back as Mary Lou McDonald pitches Sinn Féin to farmers

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue accused Sinn Féin of being 'missing in action' when the sectoral climate ceilings were being debated. Picture: Conor Ó Mearáin / Collins Photos

Sinn Féin has been a policy-free zone when it comes to agriculture and farmers, minister Charlie McConalogue has said.

Government TDs have rounded on Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald after comments she made while addressing farmers at the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) annual general meeting recently.

In her speech, Ms McDonald said some in Government have pointed the finger at Irish farmers and blamed “them for our climate failures”. 

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue said Sinn Féin has not “offered a single fresh or original idea in my time as minister”.

He said: “Their focus has been more rejection rather than inspiration.

"Most notably, they were missing in action when the sectoral climate ceilings were being set.” 

He said his focus has been engaging with farmers before making policy and taking action with meaningful financial supports.

Speaking at a press conference at the AGM in Limerick on Monday, Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy told reporters that the “best-case scenario” is that there are no Green Party TDs elected at the next general election, despite Ms McDonald not ruling out entering a coalition with the Green Party.

A spokesperson for Climate Minister Eamon Ryan said Sinn Féin’s climate policy is not clear and they fail to follow through with practical and realistic responses to tackling climate change.

The spokesperson added that Government ministers have continuously said that they want to ensure that family farm incomes are protected and strengthened while moving towards reducing carbon emissions across the economy.

Green Party TD Patrick Costello says Sinn Féin 'either don’t know or don’t care'. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Green Party TD Patrick Costello says Sinn Féin 'either don’t know or don’t care'. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Green Party TD Patrick Costello said Sinn Féin has shown no leadership or understanding of climate issues.

He reiterated that the party had its chance to contribute to the debate around setting sectoral targets but chose not to, claiming they did not have enough information.

Sinn Féin hid away while everyone got stuck in, and it’s rich of them now throwing insults around when there was a meaningful debate they walked away from," he said.

He rejected Ms McDonald’s claim that some in Government have pointed the finger and blamed farmers.

He told the Irish Examiner that Sinn Féin has not shown leadership or an understanding of the issues facing the climate or farmers and walking away from debate “shows they either don’t know or don’t care”.

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