Ten Years On – A Full Public inquiry into death of Shane O’Farrell is required

Ten Years On – A Full Public inquiry into death of Shane O’Farrell is required – Matt Carthy TD


Sinn Féin TD for Cavan Monaghan, Matt Carthy, has said that it is imperative that the government begin preparations for a full independent public inquiry into the death of Shane O’Farrell, the actions of all relevant state bodies in response to his death and their respective roles in advance of and following his killing.


Deputy Carthy was speaking after a full decade had passed since the untimely and avoidable death of Shane.  He said that the family’s case for a full independent public inquiry has strengthened with each passing month and year.


Shane O’Farrell, a young 23 year old Carrickmacross man, was killed in a hit and run on 2nd August 2011, by Zigimantas Gridziuska, a known criminal who had breached his bail conditions at the time and had 42 previous convictions in three different jurisdictions.


Speaking this week, Matt Carthy said:


“It is ten years since Shane O’Farrell lost his life.  The man responsible for his death should have been in prison at the time.  Shane’s family have never had a proper opportunity to grieve for their son because they have spent every available minute doing the job of the state by investigating the circumstances that led to that awful moment in their lives.


“Despite a Dáil resolution that there should be a full independent public enquiry into the issues that have been raised by the O’Farrell family, the government have sought to delay and frustrate this at every step.


“A scoping inquiry was announced in early 2019 but we still do not have a final report.  It followed a lengthy GSOC investigation.


“It is an ongoing scandal that his family have been fighting every day since his tragic and avoidable death for truth and answers.  They have encountered barriers every step of the way.  These barriers have been presented by the agencies of the state that are charged with protecting citizens and delivering justice.


“There is now a Justice Minister in place from Shane’s constituency.  She should now start preparing for an independent inquiry.  The Dáil, by majority resolution, called for such an inquiry in June 2018.


“Anyone who has acquired a knowledge of this case will readily accept that the litany of failures on the part of the State in this case can only be adequately addressed through a full independent inquiry.


“The O’Farrell family have raised several serious concerns regarding the handling of this case by an Garda Síochána, by the prosecuting solicitor and barrister, by the DPP and by the courts services.


“These questions are so numerous and raise matters of such significance and concern that, in my view, there must now be a public inquiry that examines each of these concerns and addresses the matters raised so that measures can be put in place so that no other family is failed to the extent that the O’Farrell’s have been.


“Only a full independent inquiry can have any hope of delivering the answers to the questions to which the O’Farrell family deserve.


“Ten years on – there should be no further delays”.


Local TD calls for action on Cavan Monaghan class sizes

Local TD calls for action on Cavan Monaghan class sizes – Matt Carthy TD


Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has called on the Minister for Education to address excessive class sizes, citing figures obtained by Sinn Féin that reveal there are over 2,500 classes with more than 30 students across the state.  79 of those are in the Cavan Monaghan constituency.


Deputy Carthy said:


“This pandemic has exposed just how underfunded, understaffed, and overloaded our education system is.  Overcrowding in classrooms is undeniably a major issue resulting from decades of under-investment.


“Figures released to Sinn Féin’s Education spokesperson now reveal that there are 79 classrooms across Cavan and Monaghan that have more than 30 pupils, 44 of those are in County Monaghan with one classroom in the county having an unacceptable 37 students.


“With an average classroom size of 22.7 and 23.3 in Cavan and Monaghan respectively, the number of students per classroom is unacceptably higher than the EU average of 20.


“The reality is that keeping schools running in the last year was made considerably more difficult by the fact that we have some of Europe’s largest class sizes.  There are far too many classes that are much too large, often housed in inadequate buildings that are unfit for purpose.

“Our teachers and principals are doing trojan work to provide a top-class education for our children.  But, they are working under conditions that we know are unacceptable.


“The first step in improving educational standards and safety regulations is to dramatically reduce class numbers to the EU average of 20.


“The government should immediately conduct a nationwide audit of class sizes and seek to resolve this issue as quickly as possible so that schools can remain open in a safe and sustainable manner in the coming months.”


Cavan Monaghan feeling brunt of Crisis in Apprenticeship System

Cavan Monaghan feeling brunt of Crisis in Apprenticeship System  – Matt Carthy TD


Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has accused the government of creating a crisis situation in the apprenticeship system as his party discovered that over 67% of all apprentices (13,440) are now on a waiting list to access off-site training.  This is leading to problems in the construction sector while leaving thousands of young people in


Of those apprentices unable to gain access almost 900 are on waiting lists from the Cavan Monaghan ETB area.


Deputy Carthy said:


“Sinn Féin, through our spokesperson on Higher Education Rose Conway Walsh TD, have been raising the issue of waiting lists in the apprenticeship system for months.  Last March there were 6,928 apprentices on a waiting list to access the off-the-job training.  By May that had increased to 9,071 apprentices.


“In early July the Dáil was told that there were ‘over 10,000’ waiting.  But, figures released to Rose Conway-Walsh by the department show that the figure was in fact 13,440.


“495 of those waiting are from the Cavan Monaghan ETB area.


“That means that over 67% of all apprentices are now waiting to access off-site training – training that is essential to completing and progress through an apprenticeship.


“It is clear that the government have been attempting to hide the full extent of the lengthening waiting lists.  The delays in training our apprentices is creating problems in the construction sector, how many stories have we heard of difficulties in sourcing tradespeople?


“My office has been contacted by several apprentices in despair at the situation.  Some have been rescheduled multiple times and then informed that access to training has been again delayed until at least January 2022.


“In many instances four-year apprenticeship will now take over 5 years to complete.  On the current trajectory that situation could get even worse.


“Despite repeated assurances by government that action will be taken, waiting lists continue to spiral out of control.  This is a debacle that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.


“The government responds by stating that it has invested €12 million to support additional classes and teaching capacity.  However, from department reports we know that savings of €16.7 million were made due to the state paying less in apprentices’ allowances in 2020.  This means that the government is not even fully reinvesting the savings that they have made.


“No other cohort of students are treated in this way.  At a time when government is talking about the safe return of further and higher education to campuses the apprenticeship system has been left to grind to a halt.


“Despite the amazing efforts of administrators and teaching staff across the country, apprentices are being badly let down when it comes to getting the education and training they need.


“Every one of these apprentices represent tradespeople and other professionals sorely needed now and for the post-pandemic recovery.  This issue needs to be sorted – now.”



‘Discriminatory’ legislation will undermine pandemic solidarity

‘Discriminatory’ legislation will undermine pandemic solidarity – Matt Carthy TD


Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, last week hit out at government legislation which will prevent unvaccinated people from accessing in-door hospitality.  Deputy Carthy described the new law as ‘discriminatory’ and a ‘kick in the teeth’ to young people.  He also said that the law will undermine the solidarity that has been so important in tackling the virus to this point.


Teachta Carthy told the Dáil:


“I will be opposing this legislation.


“One of the phenomenal outworkings of the societal response to Covid-19 was the sense of solidarity we have seen through the most part of the past 18 months.  People have been looking out for each other, supporting our front-line workers and understanding and appreciating the sacrifices others have made.  This sense of solidarity has permeated through the major part of our society.


“Despite being demonised at different points during the pandemic, young people were to the fore in that regard.  The solidarity displayed by young people during the pandemic has been phenomenal.  Consider what they have sacrificed in terms of school closures, missing out on college life and social life at really important times, employment and future employment prospects, travel, love and all those things that are part of those crucial, formative years.  These were all sacrificed and there has been a cost to their mental health as a result.


“Our young people have made real sacrifices.  They were not the same sacrifices as those made by the people who lost loved ones or endured serious physical illness but they were sacrifices nonetheless.


“We should commend the young people of Ireland on making those sacrifices. They did it for their grannies, for their parents, for their elderly neighbours and for the vulnerable in our communities.


“My biggest fear is that the Minister has brought forward legislation that trashes all of the sacrifice and effort our young people made and spits in their faces.  In the context of those who suffered so much through mental anguish, it was young people I think, who were most affected as a result of all that has happened over the past year.  I have seen it in my family, community, town and constituency.


“Now, the Minister is saying that those people are to be discriminated against.


“I want to see hospitality open for all.  I want to see it happening in a safe manner and I want to ensure that when we open a service, whatever it may be, it will remain open.  On all of those rhetorical points, I am at one with everybody in this House.


“But, what if we have to, at some further stage, bring forward new proposals for further restrictions?  What if there is an “echo” or a “falcon” variant or whatever the next name is? What if there is a variant that beats the vaccine?


“What if we have to go back and ask people to make sacrifices again?  How can we possibly look young people in the eye and ask them to do that all over again when we have decided to bring forward legislation that discriminates against them after they did it once before? We cannot.


“That is why I am so angry about this legislation.  That is why so many people are frustrated. They cannot believe that the Government has the audacity to do this to them, when they have no choice. Most of them will receive the vaccine when it is available to them but it is not available to most of them right now.


“Young people are expected to work in the bars and the restaurants and to wait on people who were vaccinated but they are unable to enjoy the same services themselves.


“That is plainly, utterly wrong.




“We all recall the summer recess last year and the infamous “golfgate”.  Do government members remember the anger that arose among the public about that?


“It was not because a group of people met in a hotel and had a meal and a pile of pints.  It was because most people were not allowed to do that and they abided by the rules.  What really angered people was the sense that there was one rule for some and another rule for others.


“Essentially, Government has brought forward legislation that legalises one rule for some and another rule for everybody else.  That is not good enough.  I fear that the Minister is undermining that great sense of solidarity we should be so proud of among the young and old across society.


“The Minister will be responsible for that.  I hope he recognises that and realises what he is doing with this legislation. He is serving precisely nobody well”.


Government are providing free houses – to the vultures and speculators!

“Government are providing free houses – to the vultures and speculators!” – Matt Carthy TD


Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, last week addressed the Dáil in favour of a Sinn Féin Bill which would ban rent increases over the next three years.  Urging government parties to break with the failures of the past, he slammed the policies of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael which have provided huge subsidies to speculators and financial institutions rather than homes for ordinary workers and families.


Deputy Carthy said:


“When Leo Varadkar accused Sinn Féin of promising free housing, he exposed the Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael ideologically driven agenda that lit the embers of the housing crisis and fanned the sparks, leading to the catastrophe we witness in every community in this State.


“This catastrophe means that most young people cannot even dream of ever owning their own home.


“I grew up in a council house.  It was never a free house.  Rent was paid in line with the income coming into the house.  The State bought an asset and it was paid back in spades.


“Public house building was an investment that benefited all within society.


“Those who needed help were able to get it, those who wanted to rent were able to do so affordably and those who had relatively good incomes were able to purchase or build at a reasonable price with a good expectation that the property’s value would rise in a steady but stable manner.


“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments decided to change tack.  Not because they were opposed to free houses; but because they wanted to make housing a speculative commodity.


“In fact, these governments did provide free houses – but they provided them to vultures, cuckoo funds and speculators.


“Last year, the Government handed €800 million in subsidies to private landlords.  This year, the figure is set to top €1 billion.  That is not even to mention the tax breaks, loopholes and sweetheart land deals.


“The Minister is providing free gaffs all right, but he is giving them to the very people who are fleecing our renters across the country.


“This catastrophe was a long time in the making.  It will take a long-term strategy and policy approach such as that presented by Eoin Ó Broin to resolve it.


“Right now, we need proposals to help those at the coalface of the natural outworkings of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael policies.  They are policies of boom and bust cycles, homelessness and out-of-control rent prices.  Again, Sinn Féin is bringing forward the proposals that will make a difference.


“This Bill has been brought forward because it is what renters need.  It is an opportunity for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Deputies to recognise the crisis of their making and the catastrophe that is visiting families the length and breadth of this State.  This Bill is an opportunity to turn the tide and recognise, once and for all, that our renters need a break.  It will provide that break.”


Following the debate Carthy highlighted that government approach to the housing crisis was out of date saying:


“The government have belatedly agreed to link rent increases to inflation.  This is too little, too late.  This would have been an effective measure if it had been adopted in 2017 when first proposed by Sinn Féin.  At that time Fianna Fáil opposed the measure.


“Since then we’ve seen dramatic increases in the rental market that require dramatic action – a rent freeze.


“A rent freeze is only one element – with rents so high, renters need a break.  That’s why Sinn Féin also propose putting a month rent back in people’s pockets through a refundable tax credit.


“The fact that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael TDs voted down the Sinn Féin legislation shows that they are still blind to the severity of the crisis”.


Local post office network must be supported with Public Service Obligation

Local post office network must be supported with Public Service Obligation – Matt Carthy TD


Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has issued a scathing rebuke of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s track record on local post offices.  He has called on the government to introduce a Public Service Obligation to support the network into the future.


Deputy Carthy was speaking in the Dáil on a Private Members Motion on the future of the post office network which called on the government to reinvigorate the network and avoid any further closures.


The Cavan-Monaghan TD said:


“The local post office is in many respects the heartbeat of local communities.  For many people, it is also their primary interaction with the State.  It is where Government, business, communities and real living people meet.


“That is why the closure of a post office can be such a devastating ordeal for a local community.


“It cannot be overstated that when a service such as a post office is removed, it also removes part of the fabric of that community and creates a sense of disengagement and disempowerment.


“Unfortunately, all too often post office closures are part of a wider removal of other services so the same communities that lose their post offices often also see their Garda stations or schools under threat.  Invariably, local enterprise will follow those services out of the “community.


“The Government should not only agree to adopt this motion and accept the Sinn Féin amendment but Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael TDs must also recognise the failures of their own policies.


“Under a Fianna Fáil Government, 755 local post offices were shut down between 1999 and 2011.  Fine Gael oversaw the closure of 159 other post offices in 2018 alone.


“With each one of those closures, the Government failed those communities affected and the principle of balanced regional development.


“Therefore, it is important that as a first step we accept the Public Service Obligation as a model that can revitalise those post offices and start putting our money where our mouth is.


“It is not good enough to simply say we support our local post offices unless we are willing to adopt the budgetary and policy framework that will allow them to be viable”.




Following the debate, Deputy Carthy said:


“Over the last 20 years communities have been consistently fighting the closures of their local post offices, closures which have a profound impact in our communities.  Postmasters have presented credible proposals which would revitalise the post office network but these can been ignored by government and An Post management.


“For example, my colleague Cllr Cathy Bennet and I have been attempting to get a service as modest as a post box installed in the village of Annyalla, but An Post have resisted this simple request from a local community.


“It is evident that we need a radical rethink of our postal services that delivers for rural communities in the first instance but that also allows local branches to thrive.  That requires a Public Service Obligation, an expansion of the facilities available at post offices and a commitment from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that they will not permit any further branch closures”.



Carthy receives assurance on Cross-Border Vaccine Certificate

Carthy receives assurance on Cross-Border Vaccine Certificate


Deputy Matt Carthy has welcomed the assurance he has received from An Taoiseach Mícheál Martin that Irish citizens who availed of their vaccination in the north or in Britain will be able to access the new EU digital Covid certificate.


The Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin representative raised the matter directly with the Taoiseach after conflicting reports emerged from government press offices, including one that indicated that there would not be access to the cert for that cohort, which he estimated could affect thousands of people in the border region.


Deputy Carthy asked the Taoiseach:


“I wish to raise the EU digital Covid certificate.  In particular, I ask the Taoiseach to provide some much-needed clarity with regard to Irish citizens who were vaccinated in the North and to provide an assurance that those people will be able to avail of the EU digital Covid certificate.


“Before this morning, I understood that there was clarity on this matter.  I had made several representations to the Department of Health on behalf of people who live in my constituency of Cavan-Monaghan but who work in the North.  Those I was dealing with happen to work in the health services there and they have been vaccinated through the North’s programme.  They have every entitlement and right, as I am sure the Taoiseach will agree, to avail of the EU’s digital Covid-19 certificate, as we would expect would be the case for all the people in the North who have been vaccinated.


“A little confusion has arisen in this regard, however, because of a statement issued by the Government press office to RTÉ which cast some doubt on the position.  The Minister for Transport, Deputy Eamon Ryan, indicated on RTÉ this morning that there will be no issue.  I therefore ask the Taoiseach to provide clarification and assurance regarding Irish citizens vaccinated via the programme being run by the NHS in the North being able to avail of the EU’s digital Covid-19 certificate”.


In response the Taoiseach made it clear that there will be no issue for citizens ‘on the island, north or south, in accessing the Covid digital certificate’.  Deputy Carthy welcomed this statement.




“Every conversation between any Taoiseach and British Prime Minister should include challenge on Dublin-Monaghan bombings”

“Every conversation between any Taoiseach and British Prime Minister should include challenge on Dublin-Monaghan bombings” – Carthy tells Dáil


Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has said that no conversation should ever take place between any Taoiseach and a British Prime Minister at which the issue of the Dublin Monaghan bombings is not raised.


Deputy Carthy was speaking during questions to Micheál Martin following the most recent meeting of the British Irish Council.  Describing the bombings as the crystallizing of British collusion with loyalist death squads he noted that the British government continued to refuse to release their files on the atrocities.


Deputy Carthy told the Dáil:


“Just over 47 years ago, in May 1974, 33 innocent people, including a pregnant woman, were killed in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.


“Those bombings were carried out by the Glenanne gang which included members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, UVF, MI5, the RUC and the Ulster Defence Regiment, UDR.  The bombings were the crystallisation of collusion policy but nobody has ever been brought to justice.


“Successive British Governments have refused to release the files they have on the atrocities. The Dáil has, on three separate occasions, passed unanimous motions calling on the British Government to release all pertinent files and calling on the Irish Government to press the British to comply with this most reasonable request.


“As recently as a month ago, Ministers reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to seeking the truth behind the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.  Did the Taoiseach raise the Dublin and Monaghan bombings at the recent British-Irish Council meeting?  When did the Taoiseach last make a request to the British Prime Minister for the release of documents held by the British Government?


“It is my firm belief that no conversation should ever take place between any Taoiseach and British Prime Minister where this issue is not raised until such time as the British Government releases its files so that we can provide the truth and justice that the families of the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings deserve”.


In response the Taoiseach said: “I never lose an opportunity to raise the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and I did so again at the most recent meeting I had with the British Prime Minister when we discussed legacy issues. Successive Irish Governments have consistently sought all of the information in British hands on that terrible atrocity that was committed in 1974”.


Carthy supports Bill to prevent corporate takeover of veterinary practices

Carthy supports Bill to prevent corporate takeover of veterinary practices


Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has called on the government to support legislation that would ban corporate ownership of veterinary practices within the state.


Guidelines from the Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) previously prohibited the purchase of local veterinary practises by ‘non-vet’ corporations but these were revised in 2017 as VCI found that they lacked the statutory basis to implement such a ban.


During his contribution to a Dáil debate on proposed new legislation, Carthy also challenged the Agriculture Minister in relation to the controversial implementation of EU Regulation 2019/6 which could see the role of the Licensed Merchant sector in providing Veterinary Medicinal Products severely curtailed.


Deputy Carthy told the Dáil:


“This Bill is introducing nothing new or controversial.  It is simply bringing us back to the position we were in before the Veterinary Council of Ireland revised its guidelines in 2017.  My understanding is that the council revised those guidelines when it came to understand that there was no statutory basis to limiting the ownership of veterinary practices to veterinary practitioners.


“The current network of veterinary practices in Ireland has been referred to as the hold-out against the trend of corporate ownership which has developed elsewhere.


“There is good reason for Ireland to hold out, given that locally owned veterinary practices complement our unique family farm network.  The Minister essentially acknowledged that the horse has not bolted yet but indicated, in many respects, that we will wait until it has bolted before doing anything about it.


“This legislation is timely and it is apt that we are discussing it now. There are good practical reasons for seeking to limit the ownership of practices to vets.  We know that internationally, where corporates have acquired local practices, there has been a derogation of the services offered.


“In February 2018, an attorney from the legal affairs division of the department of consumer affairs in the state of California issued a lengthy legal opinion stating that corporate ownership had amounted to corporate entities ultimately ‘practising the licensed profession of veterinary medicine’.  She went on to state that the ‘employment agreements contain net revenue percentage incentives to sell the corporation’s animal care products that may or may not be in the best interests of the animal and that this creates an environment where veterinarians may believe that their employment is at risk if they are not selling those products’.


“A 2019 survey of the veterinary profession carried out in Britain heard concerns from many practising vets.  One said that ‘it was a great mistake to allow non-vets to own practices because as soon as they take over, the prices go sky high’.  Another said that the ‘ability of huge corporates to do just as they please will continue to get worse’.  There are references to a ‘commercialised profession’ more interested in commercial gain for large conglomerates than in caring for patients and clients.


Experience in Britain


“When corporate ownership was permitted across Britain, the proportion of corporates went from 0% to 10% of all practices between 1999 and 2009.  It had grown to 50% by last year and is forecast to eclipse 70% by next year.  It is quite clear that we need to make sure that this horse does not bolt.


“These are the same corporate players that are currently just dipping their toes into the Irish water.  We have witnessed what large-scale corporate ownership could mean for rural communities with the experience in the Minister’s constituency at Donegal Animal Hospital. Having been acquired by a corporate, we saw a situation develop which almost resulted in the loss of the 24-hour service in that county.  Fortunately, that situation was resolved but it was local veterinary practitioners who ensured that the service was maintained, not the new corporate entity.


“We cannot allow a situation to arise whereby corporate entities can put pressure on local vets to increase margins through either delivering a poorer service to smaller or more peripheral farms, or even through incentivising the sale and use of veterinary medicinal products we are seeking to decrease reliance on.


“Our farmers practice, and rightly so, the highest standards of animal husbandry anywhere in the world.  We need practitioners in this field to rely on their own expert judgment rather than the interests of a new and separate master whose primary motivation will always be profit.


“It is important to note that this Bill is supported by Veterinary Ireland, while the majority of vets oppose corporate ownership entirely.  I encourage all Members to support the bill, not simply because vets agree with the proposal before the House but because it is quite clearly the right thing to do.


“Some aspects of society, and particularly of the corporate world, need to be tightly regulated and this is quite clearly one of them, especially in the context of what could become a global crisis in antimicrobial resistance.  We must ensure that the people at the coalface who are prescribing medicines for animals on farms and for our pets have a long-term interest in the community and in the welfare of those animals.


Licence Merchants and Veterinary Medical Products


“On the issue of veterinary medicinal products, I ask the Minister to urgently seek to resolve the impasse between the Department and those in the licensed merchant sector with regard to EU directive 2019/6.


“So-called ‘responsible persons’ in the licensed merchant sector and pharmacists are expertly trained to provide services locally that meet the highest standards and the needs of our farming communities.  Many of them watched the hearings of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine and saw the cross-party unanimity on the question of a continuing role for them, particularly in the context of an almost identical regime in the North, and of Britain availing of a derogation that the Irish Government chose not to.


“I understand that those people who graduated in September 2019 from a course that cost €995 were addressed by none other than the current Minister for Agriculture.  I have no doubt that at the time that the Minister spoke to them about how their hard work and study would pay off as they embarked on new careers.


“What does he intend to ask them to do with their costly training, which now appears to be pointless?  What will the Department do to rectify that situation?


“I encourage and implore the Minister and the Minister of State to approach this bill constructively and positively.  I look forward to further deliberations on Committee Stage to make sure this Bill is as robust and strong as possible and can withstand any challenges that may present.


“The horse has not yet bolted.  We are in a unique situation whereby we know what will happen if this type of legislation is not introduced.  We have seen the consequences elsewhere, across the water, in other parts of Europe and across the globe.  Now is our time to make sure that the bolts are tightened and that we have a veterinary system in this country of which we can all be proud”.


Carthy hits out at “unambitious” government approach to organic farming

Carthy hits out at “unambitious” government approach to organic farming


Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD, has said that the unambitious approach adopted by government in the development of organic farming also penetrates into statutory agencies.


Carthy was speaking following recent hearings of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee with farm organisations, Teagasc, Bord Bia and the Department of Agriculture on the future of the organics sector.


Teachta Carthy said:


“The reputation of Irish agriculture is one of a quality premium product and Irish farmers should be well placed to leverage the ambitious target of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy to target at least 25% of agricultural land under organic production by 2030.


“Unfortunately, Ireland currently languishes towards the bottom of the table with under 2% currently under organic production, potentially damaging the reputation of Irish food production.


“The current government target of 7.5% is illustrative of this governments woeful lack of ambition matched only by what they have delivered to date.


“Minister of State Hackett lauded an investment at the beginning of this year with a target of up to 500 entrants, while the departments own figures and number of applicants to the scheme reveal that we will be lucky to see half that number of new spaces taken up.


“The lack of ambition and vision within the Department of Agriculture is disappointing.  This unambitious approach penetrates into those statutory agencies that could, and should, be playing a positive role in the development of organics such as Bord Bia and Teagasc.


“Just 5 of the 100 newly established Teagasc Signpost Farms are organic.  That only 5% of new Signpost Farms are organic is an indication of surrender that we will may not even reach the pathetic 7.5% target, let alone 25% in the few years ahead.


“The organics sector in this state is plagued by a lack of vision and government support.  Apathy, that verges on hostility, pervades every aspect of organic development.


“Having engaged with many of those in the organics sector; including those farm representatives who attended the Oireachtas hearings, Nigel Renaghan of the IFA from County Monaghan, and Henry O’Donnell of the INHFA from County Donegal, I know that farmers are open to entering organics if the supports are there and if the training, expertise and marketing are provided.


“Recently, Sinn Féin leader Marylou McDonald joined me to meet with organic farmers in County Monaghan where we also visited the new Irish Organic Mill.  The experiences we heard were of a Department of Agriculture which provided barriers rather than assistance and are all too familiar.


“As well as supporting our Climate Action obligations the development of the organics sector can provide a much-needed income boost to our family farmers.  Done right, organics can bring profitability and sustainability to Irish farms that currently have neither.


“The current government approach to organics is failing utterly – dramatic action based on ambition and vision is required at a Ministerial level if we are to have any prospect of delivering on the undeniable potential”.


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