Government will not co-finance EU exceptional farm supports

Government will not co-finance EU exceptional farm supports

A shameful position says Matt Carthy TD

 

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has described ‘the failure’ of the Minister for Agriculture to secure government co-financing support to EU agriculture funding as ‘shameful’.

 

While Ireland received €15.8 million from the European Crisis Reserve (ECR) the European Commission gave member states significant flexibility to increase supports to farmers by up to 200% through direct exchequer funding, potentially unlocking a further €31.6 million in supports for Irish farmers.  But, in a response to a Parliamentary Question Minister McConalogue has now confirmed to Deputy Carthy that government will not be utilising this provision.

 

Teachta Carthy said:

 

“The Minister for Agriculture has now confirmed, for the first time, that he will not be utilising the co-financing mechanism to provide additional financial supports to farmers through the European Crisis Reserve.

 

“Considering the enormous pressures that many family farmers are facing, particularly with rising input costs, this position is shameful and unforgivable.  It appears that government have not yet learned that increased costs for farmers results in increased grocery prices for consumers.  Their inaction will worsen the cost-of-living crisis.

 

“In agriculture, as with so many other areas, government have continually acted too slowly and in a minimalistic manner.  We know that farmers within the pig, tillage and livestock sectors are crying out for support.  The EU provided for government intervention to provide further supports.  Minister McConalogue has now confirmed that he will not utilise this provision.

 

“Sinn Féin will be demanding a rethink of this position.  Often, government cite EU rules, as reason not to intervene in the cost-of-living crisis.  In this instance the EU has provided for government to support struggling farmers to the tune of €31.6million.  That they have choose not to will not be forgotten by farmers or the rural communities that depend on them.”

 

NOTE TO EDITORS:

Parliamentary Question below.

 

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 14/06/2022
Question Number(s): 1946 Question Reference(s): 29032/22
Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Asked by: Matt Carthy T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 730 of 24 May 2022, if he intends to avail of the co-financing mechanism of the European Crisis Reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

 

On 23rd March, the EU Commission announced the adoption of exceptional adjustment aid to producers in agricultural sectors which have been impacted by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. The aid provided for was granted as a measure supporting agricultural markets following the transfer of funds from the reserve for crisis in the agricultural sector.

The exceptional aid allocation to Ireland was €15.8 million in EU funding and there are detailed requirements and conditionality attached to this allocation; set out in Commission Delegated Regulation 2022/467 of 23rd March 2022.

On 6th June, I announced the opening of the Horticulture Exceptional Payment Scheme. Support is being provided to the critically important Irish horticulture sector, with an aid package of €2.8m for eligible growers. On 13th June, I announced the opening of applications for the Pig Exceptional Payment Scheme 2 (PEPS2). A total fund of €13 million is being made available for this voluntary scheme for pig farmers, to support the viability of this important sector. These scheme are funded from Ireland’s EU funds allocation for exceptional adjustment aid to producers in agricultural sectors which have been impacted by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Exchequer funding will not be used to co-finance the exceptional aid measure.  Ireland will instead provide exchequer funding separate to Commission Delegated Regulation 2022/467 to other sectors in the context of the illegal invasion of Ukraine. In addition to the use of the EU exceptional aid provision, and in acknowledgement of the need to address the multiple impacts of the illegal invasion in Ukraine on food supply chains and food security, significant funding has already been allocated towards Exchequer funded measures including a targeted intervention package for the tillage sector, and the Pig Exceptional Payment Scheme.

ENDS

“Threat to Navan Hospital services will be very familiar to Monaghan people”

“Threat to Navan Hospital services will be very familiar to Monaghan people” – Matt Carthy TD

 

Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has said that the current threat to services at Navan Hospital will be very familiar to Monaghan people as will the HSE promises of better services to be provided elsewhere.  Deputy Carthy said that the plans to remove crucial emergency services from Navan Hospital will impact primarily on communities in Meath but, as with the removal of similar services in Monaghan, it with result in further stress at other hospitals such as Drogheda.

 

Teachta Carthy stated:

 

“The people of Navan and surrounding communities are right to vigorously oppose the removal of vital services from their local hospital.

 

“The stated proposal by the HSE to close the Accident and Emergency Department at Navan will be all too familiar to Monaghan people.  The HSE suggestion that a Navan Minor Injuries Unit will be met with incredulity in Monaghan where the same promise was previously made – that service current operates minimal opening hours, a situation government insist they will not change.

 

“In County Monaghan the decisions by previous Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Governments to remove services from Monaghan hospital continue to have serious negative repercussions.

 

“Emergency services were withdrawn from Monaghan and resulted in drastic overcrowding at Cavan and Drogheda hospitals.

 

“A minor injuries unit, MIU, was eventually established.  It is a great service that should serve to ease pressure on both GP and emergency departments.  However, the MIU only operates Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., in contrast with most other minor injury units which operate seven days a week, 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

 

“On top of that, for non-GP referrals there is now a fee of €75 for patients to attend.

 

“The result of this is that the numbers attending the MIU are not optimal while the demands on GPs and on emergency departments are ever growing.  It is as if the Government is trying to make a bad situation worse.

 

“Now, a bad situation at A&E departments in Drogheda and elsewhere could be worsened if the current plans to close Navan emergency services are allowed to proceed.  Communities in Meath are absolutely correct to oppose those moves and they will have the full support of Monaghan people.

 

“The fact that it is again a Fianna Fáil Minister that is overseeing the removal of services at Navan, just as it was in Monaghan.  In both cases Fine Gael are willing partners to the decimation of local health services.

 

“Governments refused to listen when we warned them of the consequences of withdrawing services from Monaghan Hospital – a decision still rightly challenged by all right-thinking people – in the interest of the people of Meath and beyond, I hope government will listen this time.”

ENDS

Opening of Carrickmacross Primary Care Centre should be only first step for local healthcare

Opening of Carrickmacross Primary Care Centre should be only first step for local healthcare – Matt Carthy TD

 

Local Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy has welcomed the opening of the Carrickmacross Primary Care Centre, with the official opening set to follow in July.

 

In response to parliamentary question the HSE has confirmed to Deputy Carthy that the 40 HSE staff in place would be providing services from the Primary Care Centre in the areas of: Primary Care; Dental; Mental Health Services; Dietetics; Occupational Therapy; Physiotherapy; Podiatry; Psychology; Social Work and Speech Therapy.

 

Deputy Carthy said:

 

“The opening of this Primary Care Centre will be welcomed by the local community in Carrickmacross, who have been long impacted by the hollowing out of services at local hospitals in Monaghan and Dundalk and the GP shortage in the region.

 

“The services at the Primary Care Centre will only serve to deliver for the people of the area if they are in tandem with well resourced and working services across the health service.

 

“Various aspects of the health service in our area continually fail to effectively function.

 

“In particular, the dental scheme for children and audiology services in Monaghan have waiting lists that are far too long.  The shortage of GP services is a constant issue brought to my attention.

 

“Covid can only be blamed for delays for so long – the people of Carrickmacross expect and deserve solutions from government, not excuses.

 

“Sinn Féin have published detailed proposals as to how we would tackle waiting lists, address staffing issues, and reform the health service to deliver one which is truly free at the point of access, and prompt access at that.

 

“The opening of this Primary Care Centre is indeed welcome – but only as a first step towards delivering the world leading health care that the people of Monaghan deserve, and that our taxes already justify.”

 

Response to Parliament Question:

 

Re: PQ ref 24750/22

To ask the Minister for Health when the primary care centre in Carrickmacross will become operational; the services that will be available in the centre at that date; the services that will become available at a later stage; the number of professionals and grades that will be based in the centre associated with each service; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

 

Dear Deputy Carthy,

 

The Health Service Executive has been requested to reply directly to you in the context of the above Parliamentary Question, which you submitted to the Chief Officer, CHO 1 for response.  I have examined the matter, and the following outlines the position

 

The Carrickmacross Primary Care Centre is now operational and providing services to the public since mid-April. The official opening is due to take place in early July.

 

There are approximately 40 HSE staff providing services from the Primary Care Centre including Primary Care; Dental and Mental Health Services.

 

There are five Public Health Nurses based in Carrickmacross and one Registered General Nurse.  In addition there is a Tissue Viability Nurse and a Continence Nurse based in Primary Care Cavan/Monaghan across both Networks who may provide level two specialist nursing interventions to clients in the Carrickmacross area where there is an identified need.

 

Other services being provided by the local Primary Care Team in the Centre in Carrickmacross include Dietetics; Occupational Therapy; Physiotherapy; Podiatry; Psychology; Social Work and Speech Therapy. In each of various clinical disciplines there is one staff member assigned to Carrickmacross Primary care Team, apart from Physiotherapy which has two staff members. There are also two Administration staff providing support to the Primary Care Team.

 

Further recruitment is ongoing but all of the HSE staff identified above are in position and currently providing services.

 

As the roll out of Chronic Disease Management continues, these services will also be delivered in the Primary Care Centres across the county.

 

Yours sincerely,

A/Head of Service Primary Care

ENDS

Action needed on diesel rebate for farm contractors

Action needed on diesel rebate for farm contractors – Matt Carthy TD

 

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has said that farm contractors deserve a commitment to action from government following consistent delays to a review to their tax status in relation to the carbon tax.

 

While farm contractors were first promised a review of their status regarding the rebate in 2019, this has been delayed on a number of occasions since then with the Minister for Finance now promising delivery of the review in the early stages of Q3 of this year in a parliamentary question response to Deputy Carthy.

 

However, Carthy said that ‘the simple facts of the matter is that farm contractors carry out the exact same work as farmers, and the refusal of government to commit to reform simply results in these charges being passed on to their farming customers.’

 

Teachta Carthy said:

 

“It has been incredibly frustrating to see the Minister for Finance repeatedly delay this review.

 

“It is yet another example of the challenges facing those involved in Irish agriculture today being compounded by the lethargic attitude of this government towards resolving long-standing inconsistencies.

 

“Currently, farmers can avail of a rebate on the carbon tax if their income is sufficient.  However, the same provision is not in place for Farm Contractors despite the fact that they are carrying out agriculture work.

 

“Contractors have no choice but to pass on the charge to their customers – effectively making it an additional cost to farmers.

 

“It is particularly galling that in the most recent response to parliamentary question the Minister for Finance has said that he must ensure that tax measures are aligned the ‘the need to meet our Climate Action Plan’.

 

“Would the Minister believe it to be more beneficial if every single small-to-medium sized farmer in the state set about purchasing a personal fleet of agricultural machinery?

 

“That would seem wasteful to me, as opposed to the current framework whereby farm contractors fill that gap and ensure that each piece of individual machinery is used to the maximum.

 

“That we would penalise both farmers and farm contractors for this type of approach is beyond belief and makes no sense from the perspective of meeting our climate obligations.

 

“The Minister has confirmed he intends to complete the review exercise prior to the budget, though will not commit to bringing forward measures in the budget arising from that review.

 

“There can be no further delays.  During a period of escalating input costs, farmers need support.  One such support must be through a rebate of the carbon tax for those doing essential agriculture work for which there is no fuel alternative yet.”

 

NOTE TO EDITOR – Response to Parliamentary Question

 

________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 24/05/2022
Question Number(s): 163 Question Reference(s): 26254/22
Department: Finance
Asked by: Matt Carthy T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Finance when he expects a review into the status of farm contractors regarding the carbon tax to conclude; the timeframe which he may bring forward proposals arising from said review; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

The present position is that agricultural contractors are not entitled to avail of relief from increases in the carbon tax on farm diesel under section 664A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. This is because farming, which is defined in section 654 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, requires the occupation of farmland. Agricultural contracting does not involve the occupation of farmland. The measure is specifically targeted at the farming sector to address the particular problems faced by family farms.

However, it should be noted that, currently, those who incur expenses in relation to farm diesel in the course of their trade of agricultural contracting may claim an income tax or corporation tax deduction for these expenses, including any carbon tax charged in respect of the diesel.

My officials met with contractors’ representatives in December 2019 and advised that my Department was intending to schedule a review of the scheme (and related aspects) in the context of a wider report on agri-tax reliefs and the Government’s Climate policy.

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in the intervening period caused the review to be deferred and the formal elements of same have yet to take place. In the meantime, the status quo has remained in relation to the application and scope of section 664A. I have since received further correspondence from contractors’ representatives, most recently on 15 February 2022.

I indicated to the Deputy during the Committee Stage of the Finance (Covid-19 and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2022 on 6 April this year, that I expected that the review would be completed in advance of Budget 2023. As indicated to Deputy Conway-Walsh in response to a Parliamentary Question on 28 April last, the exercise is likely to be completed by the early part of Q3 this year.

As the Deputy will appreciate, decisions regarding taxation measures are made as part of the annual Budget and Finance Bill process at the appropriate time and having regard to the sound management of the public finances and my Department’s Tax Expenditure Guidelines. Furthermore, I must also have regard to ensuring that any tax measures are broadly aligned with the need to meet our Climate Action Plan targets.

 

END

 

Carthy accuses constituency FF/FG reps of staying silent on Monaghan Roads

Carthy accuses constituency FF/FG reps of staying silent on Monaghan Roads

 

Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has said that his constituency Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael colleagues ‘must have stayed silent’ following the decision of government to withdraw funding from the N2 Clontibret to the Border Road scheme.

 

Speaking during statements on Transport in the Dáil last week Deputy Carthy said that the road network in County Monaghan was in a deplorable state.

 

There was much criticism of Transport Minister Eamon Ryan during the debate – the title of the statements was changed at the last minute to ‘Transport, Accelerating Sustainable Mobility’ and during his address Minister Ryan failed to mention the turmoil of recent days at Dublin Airport.  Deputy Carthy said that the Transport Minister was ‘out of his depth.’

 

He said:

 

“This is some farce.  We are here to make statements on transport and the Minister for Transport is not even here.  He has left.  The Minister of State who is here is not even assigned to the Department of Transport.

 

“When the Minister did speak, he spoke for 20 minutes without reference to the one aspect of transport policy that the whole country is talking about, the debacle at Dublin Airport.

 

“Even if we were to take into account the new language the Department has insisted we use, around accelerating sustainability and mobility, the Minister’s remarks simply tell me there are two realities in this country – the reality that goes on in Eamon Ryan’s head and the reality facing the real people of Ireland, constituents such as mine.

 

“I come from a county and a region that has no rail network and this Government has zero plans to change that.  Anybody relying on public transport relies on the bus services, which are minimal at best.  That is being generous.

 

“Unless you are going to Dublin city centre, there is virtually nowhere you can get a public bus to from my constituency.  If people do decide to get the bus, the bus station is in an embarrassing state.  Again, the Minister will not intervene in that regard.

 

“The people who travel by bus by and large have to travel by private operators. They get no benefit whatsoever from the so-called discounts for public transport.  When the Government introduced a 50% reduction for young people last October, I challenged the Minister on the fact that that discount would not be available to many of my constituents.  Nothing has been done since.  When the 20% reduction across the board was introduced as a temporary so-called cost-of-living measure, it was again not applicable to many of the people I represent.

 

“The truth is that many people in Monaghan rely on their cars.  While the cost of travelling to work or dropping children to school has been increasing, the Government has sat on its hands and introduced very few measures to target those costs.  In fact, I would argue there are some people in government who are actually quite smug about the fact that fuel prices have increased.

 

“Our road network is in a deplorable state.  Local roads across County Monaghan and similar counties are in a desperate state while the Government takes money from the road network to put into pet projects.

 

“There is no better example than the N2, which would be a major artery to the north west. This year, the Government removed money from the section of that road going from Clontibret to the Border and put it into the Minister’s pet projects.

 

“When pressure was exerted by Government Members from different parts of the country, unfortunately the Government representatives from Cavan-Monaghan must have stayed silent because the project has now been shelved, according to this Minister.

 

“The Minister is quite clearly out of his depth.  I hope he will prove me wrong by starting to fund projects that will actually ensure people can drive to work after paying their road tax”.

ENDS

 

Increased costs to farmers leading to higher prices for everyone

Increased costs to farmers leading to higher prices for everyone – Matt Carthy TD

 

‘Food is the latest necessity to see substantial price hikes’.  So said the Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson, Matt Carthy, during a Dáil debate where he criticised government failure to address the cost-of-living crisis facing workers and families.

 

Speaking on a Sinn Féin motion which called for supports to be directed at those who are hardest hit by food inflation, Deputy Carthy said that government actions have actually added to the soaring costs.

 

He said:

 

“The truth is that food is just the latest necessity to see substantial price hikes.  That is not an accident.  Farm input costs have been increasing dramatically for several months, indeed, for the past year, and the Government has failed to act adequately. It was warned that this would happen if it did not act.

 

“Costs of fuel, one very important input, have been rising.  There are international factors at play, but the Government actually forced higher prices.

 

When government increased the carbon tax it increased the cost of producing food.  When government increased the carbon tax it increased the cost of transporting food.  Hey presto, food prices have soared.

 

“Then we hear a Minister of State tell us tonight that the Government will not be found wanting. Government has been found wanting on every single parameter when it comes to the cost-of-living crisis that so many workers and families are experiencing.

 

“We have advocated for years that we must freeze rents and put a month’s rent back into people’s pockets.  The Government has refused to act.

 

“On mortgages, we had the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, calling for the European Central Bank to intervene, essentially calling for an interest rate hike.

 

“No action has been taken on childcare costs, one of the major costs facing many families, to date.

 

“We have seen token measures on energy.  There was a €200 rebate, which was wiped out before it was even implemented.

 

“On fuel, the Government gives with one hand in terms of minimal excise reductions but then it takes with the other through increases in the carbon tax.

 

“As regards heating costs, government has done nothing whatsoever in respect of home heating oil other than to force the price higher through carbon taxes.  Then there are its harebrained ideas to ban some sources of home heating fuel.

 

“The huge costs people are now enduring for food are again partly the result of this Government’s failure to act.

 

“What has been proposed so far to support families with rising food costs? Nothing yet.

 

“Listening to the remarks of the Ministers nobody can have confidence that this Government either understands the scale of the crisis people are facing or has any intention of acting appropriately.

 

“All this debate has reaffirmed to me and to anybody watching it is that it is time for a change. It is time for the policies that Pearse Doherty, Claire Kerrane and the Sinn Féin team have put forward.

 

“It is certainly time to get the Government out of office.  It is time to allow Sinn Féin to provide the supports our families and workers so desperately need”.

ENDS

 

Carthy presses Tánaiste on cost-of-living crisis at his first Leaders Questions

Carthy presses Tánaiste on cost-of-living crisis at his first Leaders Questions

 

In his first time standing in for Marylou McDonald on Leaders Questions, Cavan Monaghan Deputy Matt Carthy last Thursday pressed the Tánaiste on the response of government to the cost-of-living crisis.

 

In an exchange with Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar, Deputy Carthy accused the government of failure to recognise the impact of rising prices on ordinary workers and families.

 

Deputy Carthy told the Dáil:

 

“At this stage, we are running out of words to describe the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on ordinary workers and families. Households simply cannot keep up. They are struggling to make it to the end of the week. Their hard-earned money is going out faster than it came in.

 

“While people watch every cent they spend and do everything they can to provide for their children, they also hear that the wealth of Ireland’s nine billionaires rose by €16 billion since the start of the pandemic.

 

“This cost-of-living crisis is happening at a time when inequality and the lack of fairness in Ireland is writ large.  It is up in lights for all to see.  People are working long, hard hours but they cannot afford to pay utility bills, put a roof over their heads, put fuel in the car and put food on the table.

 

“It is an understatement to say the packages the Government has introduced do not go far enough.  They did not make a dent in the astronomical living costs people face.

 

“The €200 energy credit was overtaken before it was delivered.  The excise measure to deal with the soaring costs at the pumps was wiped out virtually overnight.

 

“Incredibly, the Government still has not done anything to reduce the cost of home heating oil. In fact, at the beginning of this month it did the exact opposite, hiking the cost even further.

 

“What has been the result of the Government’s slow and sluggish response? The impact is felt sharply right across the board. The price of groceries is now soaring, as farmers warned us it would.  Increases in the prices of essentials like milk, bread and butter have hit people hard and more and more families are depending on food banks and charities like St. Vincent de Paul.  All the indicators point to further dramatic rises in food prices.

 

“Fuel prices are now back to the levels they were at before the Government introduced a measure it was told was not enough.  In some places, in fact, the price at the fuel pumps is even higher today than it was then.  It is Groundhog Day for those who are paying huge sums to fill the tank to get to work or get the kids to school.  We have all heard the stories from people like nurses, teachers and many others who simply cannot afford to run their cars any more.  These people live in communities where there are virtually no public transport options. The car is the only option.

 

“For too long, the Government has skirted around the edges of this crisis. We know international factors are at play.  We accept that reality and I accept the Government cannot do everything, but the truth is it can and should do a lot more.

 

“People struggling to make ends meet today do not want to hear what the Government did three months ago.  They certainly do not want to be told they have to wait until the budget in October.  That is for the birds.

 

“There are options.  Sinn Féin has presented a comprehensive package of measures that would make a real difference. We called for a mini-budget but the Government has sat on its hands.

 

“What is the Government’s plan for now, for 26 May 2022, knowing the reality faced by so many workers and families who are struggling to make ends meet and who do not know how they will reach the end of the month?  People want to know what the Government is going to do now, today, to help the people who are going without lunch so they will be able to put fuel in the car on their way home.  That is happening today.  This situation is beyond a crisis. We need to hear that the Government intends to act and we need to hear that right now.”

 

In his response the Tánaiste acknowledged that Ireland, and the entire world, is facing a cost-of-living crisis driven by inflation.  However, while stating that new measures would be explored, Mr. Varadkar did not specify any further actions that the government plan to introduce.

 

Time for exploring is over

 

In his follow up remarks Deputy Carthy stated:

 

On the back of a piece of paper, I can think of: rents, mortgage interest costs, childcare costs, insurance premiums and healthcare access.  These are all areas where Irish workers and families were already paying among the highest rates in the world under your Government, and all of that has been added to by the soaring cost of electricity and fuel prices that are quite simply out of control, and now we know grocery prices are also going to soar even further.

 

“I asked the Tánaiste what the Government is planning to do today to help those families.  His response was, essentially, that it is exploring things.  The time for exploring is over.

 

“We have given the Government options and measures that will support workers and families in the here and now, put money back into the pockets of hard-pressed workers in the here and now and reduce costs today.

 

“I will ask the Tánaiste again. What can the Government do to assure those people who at this moment are scratching their heads and wondering which choice to make, such as whether to put fuel in the car or miss work, or whether to put food on the table and not pay the ESB bill?

 

“Does the Tánaiste have a proposal to provide them with the supports they need here and now?”

 

In his final reply the Tánaiste said:

 

“One thing we want to avoid as a Government is getting into a situation whereby we are using borrowed money. Interest rates for government borrowing are rising too, and we want to avoid a situation whereby we borrow money to help people with the cost of living because that is false help. We would then have to take it back off them down the line, and that is something we want to avoid. Whatever we do, we need to make sure we do it in a way that is prudent, helping people with the cost of living but not using their own credit card to pay for it, and that is why the Government has put so much effort into securing investment and employment, which drive the growth we need to pay for things.”

ENDS

Proposal to segregate Children with autism must be scrapped

Proposal to segregate Children with autism must be scrapped – Matt Carthy TD

 

Cavan Monaghan TD Matt Carthy has described government plans to create Special Education Needs (SEN) centres in Dublin as ‘segregation’ and called for the proposal to be abandoned.

 

Deputy Carthy challenged Tánaiste Leo Varadkar on the issue during questions on promised legislation last Thursday.  Earlier the Tánaiste had said that the issue was one of ‘not the best language’ being used.

 

Deputy Carthy responded:

 

Returning to the issue of special education, the language is not the problem. The problem is the policy and the scandalous fact that in late May there are 80 children in Dublin and many more across the State who do not yet have special classes assigned to them for next September.

 

“The problem is that the Government has not planned to put in place the measures that would fulfil the parents’ wishes that these children with disabilities will be part of the school community rather than some anonymous special education centre, which now appears to be proposed.

 

“The NCSE and the Department have the data on the number of children with special educational needs, they have the budget and they have the powers to put these special classes in place. Those classes need to be provided. The Tánaiste needs to say very clearly today that any proposition that children with autism or other disabilities be segregated in the manner that has been suggested is unacceptable.”

 

Responding, Leo Varadkar said:Whatever about language, and language is important, the policy is clear and the Government’s policy is absolutely clear. It is one of integration. If we want an integrated society, we must have integrated schools. It is the Government’s policy to provide children who have special educational needs with mainstream education. That could be in a mainstream class with the help of an SNA or it could be in a special class in a mainstream school. Three hundred additional special classes opened in mainstream schools in the past year and that is very significant. For every €4 we spend on schools now, €1 is spent on special education, more than ever was the case before. We are very committed to making sure that children get the education to which they have a right and which they need.”

 

Speaking this week, Deputy Carthy said:

 

“We only need to look to Direct Provision or the prefabs in schools across this country to see how a short-term measure can end up becoming a permanent fixture.

 

“Where a child needs a special class place, parents do not want them to be totally separated and segregated from other children.  They want them to be part of the life of a school community.

 

“It is devastating for these parents that the government’s lack of planning has stripped them of this option.

 

“Families across the State would much prefer if the government focused on using the powers available to them to open special classes and ensure schools that do open classes are properly supported, funded and staffed.

 

“That way the government would be living up to its commitments to children with special educational needs – to have a place in a special class in a school, not a special education ‘centre’, segregated and isolated from the school community.

 

“The suggested proposals must be scrapped.”

ENDS

 

‘Just Transition is required to deliver Climate Action – but it’s not happening under current government’

‘Just Transition is required to deliver Climate Action – but it’s not happening under current government’ – Matt Carthy TD

 

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Matt Carthy TD, has labelled the actions of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party in government as rendering the term ‘just transition’ as a meaningless.  He accused government parties of advancing a ‘penalisation model’ by punishing ordinary workers, farmers and families rather than providing sustainable alternatives.

 

Speaking in the Dáil during statements on Just Transition last week, the Cavan Monaghan deputy said:

 

“It is clear that the phrase ‘just transition’ has virtually no meaning under this government.

 

“There is nothing ‘just’ about the course it is pursuing, nor is there much evidence that government policies are leading to a transition at the pace required.

 

“In agriculture, government policy has been exposed as a fallacy.  While always quick and eager to impose penalties and additional charges on family farmers in rural communities, these are never matched with the provision of alternatives.

 

“In effect, the Government charges people for not using alternatives that are not actually available to them.  We hear that the receipts from carbon taxes are ring-fenced for transition measures, but that is simply not true.  It is claimed, for example, that farmers will receive €120 million annually from the carbon tax towards agri-environmental schemes, but that is disingenuous in the extreme.

 

“The funding does not even replace the monies for farmers the Government parties gave away in the EU budget negotiations.  It is incorporated into the CAP budget, despite assurances that it would be additional.

 

“Basically, farmers will receive fewer supports while being asked to do more. Then we hear Fianna Fáil Deputies and other trying to sell that as a success.

 

“In the areas where the interests of farming and climate action collide, the Government fails at every single turn.  Organic farming, for example, presents a unique opportunity to support family farm incomes through pursuing a premiumisation model in a way that completely aligns with our environmental ambition, but this Government has set an abysmal target of 7.5% organic conversion, as against an EU target of 25%, and under a Green Party Minister of State, we are nowhere near reaching even that meagre target.

 

“Likewise in forestry, a sector where we could be making a significant impact on carbon sequestration, we have an unmitigated disaster.

 

“Rather than the delivery of a forestry policy that supports the environment, local communities and the timber industry, this Government has overseen a scenario where all three have failed.

 

“It is the same story in areas where farmers can take a lead in renewable energy provision, such as in solar and anaerobic digestion.  Blockages and barriers are the order of the day.

 

“Nowhere within the Government’s agriculture policy can we point to a provision that could in any way be described as pursuing a just transition.

 

“What is required to secure the future of our family farms is a fair CAP, fair prices and fair play.

 

“The delivery of these principles are also central to a just transition if that term is to have any basis in the language we use.

 

“Government parties continue to pursue the penalisation model, hiking charges on fuel and energy, but doing virtually nothing to allow those who bear the brunt to source alternatives.

 

“Through its retrofitting and electric vehicle grants policy the Government is essentially providing for a further transfer of wealth from those who are struggling the most to those who are financially better off.

 

“It is a twisted policy that bears no semblance to what a just transition should actually look like.

 

“Let us recall that the parties of Government have never achieved a single climate target that they have set.

 

“Rather than delivering on climate action, it further frustrates, angers and alienates those who could, should and want to play a positive role in protecting our environment, biodiversity and air and water quality.

 

“The Minister needs to change direction or he will again fail to deliver the change that is required.”

ENDS

 

 

Carthy welcomes Brexit funding for Seed Potato sector

Carthy welcomes Brexit funding for Seed Potato sector

 

The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD, has welcomed the proposed allocation from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) to the seed potato sector saying that it must represent just the first tranche of BAR funding to farmers.

 

Teachta Carthy said:

 

“I welcome the proposal that €3million will be allocated from Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) fund to the Irish Seed Potato sector.  I have been pressing the Agriculture Minister to support this sector since last year and I had requested that the BAR be utilised for this purpose considering the impact that Brexit has had on the sector.

 

“Irish growers have relied heavily on the importation of seed potato from Scotland.  Brexit has severely disrupted this supply so it stands to reason that the BAR would be used to assist develop the sector domestically and help make Ireland more self-sufficient in seed potato.

 

“The decision to support this sector should now be followed by funding provision to other sectors impacted by Brexit.

 

“That Ireland received almost 25% of the Brexit Adjustment Reserve was due largely to the understanding in Europe of the threat that Brexit was and remains to our farming and fishing communities.

 

“However, up until his point, farmers had not received a single euro from the fund, although bizarrely €100 million was secured for food processors.

 

“In my correspondence with Minister McConalogue in respect of the Brexit Adjustment Reserve I had sought supports for the domestic seed potato sector.  I welcome that there is now a proposal in that regard.

 

“However, the delivery of this €1 billion fund to date has been abysmally slow.  It must be now be further utilised to support the pig, beef and horticultural sectors from negative impacts associated with Brexit.

 

“The impact of Brexit alongside the spiralling costs of inputs such as fuel, feed and fertiliser mean that farmers need immediate supports.  The BAR is a mechanism that can provide some assistance as should the European Crisis Reserve but the Minister has yet to commit to maximum co-financing in respect of the later.  There must be greater urgency on all potential support schemes for our family farmers.”

ENDS

 

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