Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Potato Imports.

Tuesday, 1 March 1983

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 340 No. 7

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2.

Mr. S. Walsh: Information on Seán Walsh  Zoom on Seán Walsh  asked the Taoiseach the value of imports of potatoes in 1982.

[1188]Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mr. Barrett,: Information on Nuala Fennell  Zoom on Nuala Fennell  Dún Laoghaire): The value of potatoes imported in 1982 was as follows:

IR£ million
Fresh or chilled potatoes 13.5
Frozen potatoes 11.9
Dried, dehydrated potatoes 0.2
Flour, meal and flakes of potato 0.8
Total 26.4

That compares with £14.7 million in 1981.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  What was the first figure the Minister gave?

Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  (Dún Laoghaire): £13.5 million.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  What was that for?

Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  (Dún Laoghaire): Fresh or chilled potatoes.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  Would the Minister of State regard this as a matter of concern since we are primarily an agricultural country? In the past we were big exporters of potatoes in all forms. It would seem there has been a drastic reduction in exports and a big improvement in imports.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  This is a statistical question and the Minister of State is not responsible for policy.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  Perhaps the Minister of State would ask the Minister for Agriculture if he proposes to introduce any incentive to farmers to redress this scandalous situation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Deputy should put down a question about that.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  The Minister of State might have the information to hand.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  (Dún Laoghaire): It is a shame that we are importing such large quantities of potatoes.

[1189]Mrs. Lemass: Information on Eileen Lemass  Zoom on Eileen Lemass  Is it compulsory to indicate on bags of potatoes that they are imported? When a housewife goes into a supermarket she does not know what is imported and what is home grown.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Minister of State is responsible only for the records of imports and exports and not for the matters raised by the Deputy.

Mr. Hilliard: Information on Colm M. Hilliard  Zoom on Colm M. Hilliard  Will the Minister of State convey to the Minister for Agriculture the fact that farmers today are taking £30 and £35 a ton for potatoes while it costs £75 a ton to break even?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Deputy Hilliard should put down a question on that. The Chair might indicate at this juncture that statistical questions are put down for the purpose of obtaining the information asked for.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  (Dún Laoghaire): I should like to be helpful.

[1190]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Minister of State is not being helpful.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  (Dún Laoghaire): I should like to give some statistics to the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Only if they are statistics.

Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  (Dún Laoghaire): In 1982 virtually all imports of fresh and chilled potatoes and over 96 per cent of processed potatoes came from other EEC member states. The Netherlands and Northern Ireland were the principal suppliers.


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