Agriculture: Motion (Resumed).

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 669 No. 3

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Michael Creed on Tuesday, 2 December 2008:

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:

[581]

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this important debate. I, like some other Members, come from a small farm in the west, unlike Deputy Penrose, who obviously comes from somewhere with much better land. In Clare, the majority of farms are small and much of the land is marginal.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  They told us that in Ennis last Sunday but the Deputy was not present to hear it.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  There is not too much marginal land where Deputy Tom Hayes comes from. Deputy Breen, who is sitting beside him, will be able to tell him about the difficultly farmers face in County Clare.

I would not be in this House were it not for the support I receive from farmers and their families throughout County Clare. I respect my mandate and will work with other Deputies on behalf of farmers. We will continue to do so, despite the current economic environment. However, I would not be doing much of a service to those who elected me if I were not honest with them about the cuts. I have worked hard on behalf of farmers for the six and a half years [582]in which I have had the privilege to be a Member, both in the Dáil and Seanad. I have worked with my colleagues in the parliamentary party and in the farmers’ representative bodies. We have worked well collectively over the years to ensure that, when possible, farming was given the support it rightly deserved. The farming organisations should not make apologies to anybody for the approach they have taken. They have worked well on behalf of those they represent. The chief executive of one such organisation is retiring. There might be a job for him representing Deputies given that he did such a good job for farmers when in office. We wish him well.

I accept that the cuts will have a very significant impact on farm families if made in conjunction with the other cuts announced in the budget, be they in respect of school transport, college registration or the 1% income levy. The reality is that our economy is in a perilous state, as are economies throughout the world. It is important that we take cognisance of that and that the Government deals with it as best it can. There are no easy answers and we are borrowing to fund current expenditure. The projection for next year, just to meet current spending, is in the region of €4.8 billion. There has been a 13% decrease in the tax take this year alone. It is not sustainable to continue borrowing at the current level. It will place further pressure on the capacity of the State to deliver services for farming families and their offspring in the years ahead. Farmers will recognise and accept the importance of stabilising the economy. One does not have to be an eminent economist to know or figure out that if one’s books do not balance, one must first look to one’s spending to try to achieve stability. It is with a somewhat heavy heart that we must ask farmers at this very difficult time to assist us in addressing the economic crisis.

The sad reality is that the contributions of the Fine Gael Members in this debate have demonstrated, once again, their fiscal hypocrisy. They have demonstrated this consistently, week in, week out, since the budget. They demonstrate in the House on the issue of the day and bring their band of supporters. They put forward no suggestions. They showed the farmers what they thought of them when a better media opportunity arose in respect of the cervical cancer vaccine.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  They ditched the farmers that night when they had a better media opportunity and they tabled a different motion.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  That was because the Minister was not here.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  There was no consistency or capacity to continue with the approach they had adopted. They have taken a cynical approach——

(Interruptions).

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  They talk about bringing forward measures to correct the budget. They talk about it but have told everybody there will be no cuts, that they will not raise taxes and will target nobody. Their numbers do not add up.

Deputy Shane McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  The Deputy would not listen to his own people in Clare last week. He should not be making a fool of himself.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  They have no strategy. They believe they are hoodwinking the farmers but they are not.

[583]Deputy Shane McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  The Deputy should not be making a fool of himself.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  The farmers are solid, sound people and they are good business people. They will not buy into this outrageous carry-on of Fine Gael.

Deputy Shane McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  The Deputy should not be making a fool of himself.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  In reality, the farmers know who supported them in the past——

Deputy Shane McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  The Deputy does not know what he is talking about.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  ——and who will support them in, and lead them through, this difficult economic period.

Deputy Shane McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  The Deputy is making a fool of himself.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Deputy McEntee must refrain from interfering with other parties.

Deputy Shane McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  He would not go down to Clare to listen to his own people.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  I must ask Deputy McEntee——

Deputy Shane McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  He would not go out to campaign for them. He let them down like everyone else. I will not listen to that rubbish.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Shane McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  We did not go because the Minister was away.

(Interruptions).

Acting Chairman: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  I must ask Deputy McEntee to leave the House.

Deputy Shane McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  He is making a fool of himself.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  If there is any more interference of that kind from Deputy McEntee I must ask him to leave the House.

Deputy Shane McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  I will not listen to that rubbish.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Will Deputy McEntee obey the Chair? If he will not he must leave the House.

Deputy Shane McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  The reason there was no——

Acting Chairman: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  I asked the Deputy if he would obey the Chair.

Deputy Andrew Doyle: Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  He will.

A Deputy:  The Deputy should have ten minutes with Deputy Dooley.

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  I welcome the chance to speak in support of the Government amendment and particularly in support of my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Deputy Brendan Smith.

It is important to remember that in the current very difficult economic situation there will be a spend in 2009 of €3.2 billion in agriculture, a reduction of 2.5% on that of 2008. This small [584]reduction, in comparison to those made in other Departments, is necessary in light of the situation. The Minister has admitted these cuts. It is important to remember some facts in respect of the broad issue. The CAP health check, skillfully negotiated by the Minister and his team of officials in the midst of a very difficult negotiating environment in the post Lisbon treaty atmosphere, represents a solid outcome for Irish agriculture and will deliver an extra €175 million over the next five years.

Although milk quotas will be abolished in 2015, the arrangements secured by the Minister will ease the changes that will ensue from this radical departure for Irish agriculture. There is a cumulative increase of 9% in the quota to 2014, equivalent to an additional 500 million litres compared to 2007. Based on existing milk prices, which are increasingly under pressure, these production rights will amount to approximately €100 million. I especially welcome that the Minister, in his speech to the ICMSA last week, in the context of the increased money for modulation, committed to engage with all the farm organisations with regard to the axis he secured to unused funds in the single farm payment ceilings. Those funds will amount to €70 million over the next four years. Additional money is to be directed specifically at farm incomes and at sectors under pressure.

I know the Minister is aware of the pressures on the sheep sector and I hope he will place those farmers first in the queue. From the commitments he made in Limoges, I know that he intends to do so. Although the early retirement and installation aid schemes are temporarily suspended, I welcome the commitment made by the Minister to review that position as soon as current constraints permit.

Deputy Dan Neville: Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  In ten years.

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Some €48 million will be paid in 2009 for farmer pensions and €9 million will be paid in installation aid grants. In the case of young farmers, the budget and the Finance Bill have extended a number of specific releases to the agricultural sector, worth €65 million for next year alone. I understand that during a previous period the retirement schemes were suspended and were reinstated. There is a good commitment there on the part of the Department.

The farm waste management scheme was referred to earlier. It should be mentioned that this is the most generous on-farm investment scheme in the history of the State, with funding of €615 million paid between 2007 and 2009. Since the original scheme was introduced €700 million has been paid. The sum of €615 million achieved for one scheme should be seen as a commitment of the national development plan. The partnership talks will provide €350 million for all farm investment programmes, another good sign of that commitment.

REPS 4 payments in 2009 show a 17% increase. That expenditure will ensure €355 million for REPS, a 7% increase in overall funding. I accept and understand that the reductions in disadvantaged area payments are causing the greatest impact and are possibly getting less attention. Equally, I have full confidence that the Minister is aware of the impact of this in general, and of the disproportionate impact in certain areas, and that as soon as resources allow he will act. It is important to remember that €2.3 billion will have been paid in disadvantaged area payments over the past decade.

The issue of farm to gate prices is not directly referred to in this motion but is an issue of great concern to me and to members of the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, chaired by Deputy Penrose. The committee is currently reviewing the grocery market. As part of my work on that committee, last week I attended a meeting of Macra na Feirme. I discovered that one multiple is earning €282 per lamb while farmers are getting €78 for the [585]same animal. That is an issue the committee is committed to review. We will bring the matter to attention in January during a hearing into our food prices. I welcome engagement from the various farm organisations in that process in the new year.

It is important to remember and to reflect on the sizeable budget and the considerable expenditure that is going to agriculture for next year, despite the cuts that will affect it. I know the Minister is aware of the impact of the cuts and that as soon as resources allow he will work to alleviate the worst of those. I am happy to support the amendment and to support the Minister.

Deputy Eamon Scanlon: Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Like other speakers I am glad of the opportunity to speak on this matter. We are in a difficult and unprecedented economic period and we must be realistic about the situation we face. We must work together to pull through the current financial downturn. Reactions to the announcements of the budgetary measures that affect agriculture have been unfair. However, they are understandable.

I wish to focus on some of the changes that will be introduced under the budget. The disadvantaged area payments will see more than 65,000 of the 102,000 participants experience no reductions in their payments. Participants with the average site holding of 31 hectares will not be affected by the Minister’s decision. However, in fairness, I implore the Minister to restore the scheme to the way it was as soon as resources become available. The change particularly affects people on marginal land who have 45 or 50 hectares of low stocking density because of the quality of the land. That should be addressed and I am sure the Minister will do so as soon as funds are available.

The commitment to provide €250 million in funding for the suckler welfare scheme will be honoured in full. The installation aid and early retirement schemes, although suspended, will resume at the earliest possible date. Significant tax reliefs, worth an estimated €65 million annually, were extended in the budget. Some of these reliefs will be of particular benefit to young farmers, with stamp duty relief worth €53 million.

With regard to the farm waste management scheme, there will be no funding shortfall. All cases completed before 31 December will be paid between 2000 and 2009——

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  The Deputy is mixed up in his years.

Deputy Eamon Scanlon: Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Every grant that is approved will be paid. There is an important point. One listens to commentators and thinks that this money comes from Europe. It does not. Every cent of this money comes from the Irish taxpayer. In fairness, as was said earlier, I do not believe that €615 million will be sufficient. A number of applications have yet to come in before the end of the year and we are very much aware of that. Time is running tight and people are trying to finish. I believe and hope they will do so.

The funding commitment of €79 million in respect of the farm improvement scheme will be provided and honoured in full. The Government has ensured we will receive the maximum amount of funding from Brussels allowed under the scheme. Any inference that taxpayers’ money is being wasted or being sent back to Brussels is inaccurate. These measures ensure the most efficient possible use of taxpayers’ funds.

Tough times call for appropriate measures. Considerable improvements have been achieved in recent years in this country. Nothwithstanding these improvements, it is important to acknowledge that we are currently in the middle of an international economic and financial storm. We are not immune from its effects nor will we be. We must be realistic about what must be done in order that we can safeguard the gains made and ensure we are well positioned to benefit from the global economic pick up when it emerges. The agricultural sector is still a [586]very important part of our country’s tradition and we must do all we can to ensure it remains an integral part of who we are.

The short-term economic environment in Ireland has become much more challenging. We are not unique in this regard. Prospects in virtually all the world’s developed economies have deteriorated over the past 18 months. The current economic situation is extremely difficult, and with such considerable tax shortfalls, it is necessary to make significant reductions in public spending. Within each Department these have had to be made. It is important to point out that the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will still spend €1.8 billion of Irish taxpayers’ money and €1.4 billion of EU funding, bringing to €3.2 billion the Department’s total expenditure and support for agriculture, fisheries and food and forestry sectors during next year.

I could continue. It is an important issue and I am glad to have had the opportunity to speak. I will certainly implore the Minister on certain issues and I know the goodwill is there. There is a serious overrun in the farm waste management scheme. In my view, it should be closer to €800 million rather than €600 million. If we were to get those grants paid there would be funds to bring back the disadvantaged area payments, the installation aid and the early retirement schemes.

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  I am speaking in strong support of the Government’s amendment to this motion both as a farmer and as the father of a young farmer. In recent years, the Government has invested very heavily and productively in developing the agriculture and the agri-food sectors in this country and this strategy has paid dividends to Irish farmers.

The budget has provided €1.803 billion for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. This money comes directly from the Irish taxpayer. The EU is the source of an additional €1.4 billion, so the total amount which will be spent on agriculture, fisheries and food is over €3.2 billion. This is substantial spending on this critically important sector of the economy and is only 2.56% less than funding in 2008.

We are all now acutely aware that we are living in very straitened and harsh times where we must cut our cloth to suit our measure. There is no easy way around this situation. We cannot afford to spend money we do not have at our disposal at this time and economies have to be achieved across every Department. The economic and financial reality is stark and an onus rests on all of us, in every area of economic activity, to exercise wisdom and restraint and above all, to live within our means. There is a multiplicity of demands on the public purse and it is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that our scarce resources are applied to greatest possible effect in the interests of the overall common good.

This is the same reality with which the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has had to deal. Against a national background of diminished public resources and economic uncertainty, the Minister has been forced to take shrewd and strategic choices to safeguard the greater long-term interests of farmers and the agri-food industry. He has had to identify and adjust his spending priorities while ensuring that the industry is adequately protected and supported. Our expectations must be lowered and kept in line with budget parameters. We all have to exercise a little patience. Limited resources mean difficult choices, therefore, the Minister has focused on measures that allow the industry to be maintained and to grow its productive capacity. The major schemes which facilitate the strategic development of the sector will continue. I believe this is a wise and prudent decision in the existing economic climate which, we all must acknowledge, is very difficult.

The Minister has stated publicly on more than one occasion that all the schemes and services within his Department’s remit will be closely monitored closely throughout 2009 and the posi[587]tion will be subject to careful review. Some of the decisions which the Minister has had to take may be unpalatable for some in the short-term but he has said expressly on more than one occasion that he will look again at those decisions in the context of the Estimates for 2010. I welcome that.

REPS is a very positive initiative both for farmers and the environment. The farmer is the custodian of the land and the rural environment. Through REPS, farmers have become more conscious of the environment and the need to safeguard it. REPS has increased awareness and respect for the natural environment and has been instrumental in achieving improvements in farming methods and practices. Farmers must recognise that they have an important contribution to make to ensure that the environment is protected and, through the REPS programme, they can apply practical measures which are sympathetic to the environment and its proper conservation.

Last year farmers got a total of €311 million in funding under REPS and next year, 2009, the provision for REPS will be increased to €355 million. I am pleased that the Minister has recognised REPS as a highly valued scheme and has decided to protect it through a 17% increase in grant rates and by ensuring that the scheme continues to admit those farmers who wish to join REPS next year. It is worth pointing out that by the end of next year, €2.5 billion will have been received by tens of thousands of farmers in the previous ten years.

The farm waste management scheme is exceptionally generous. By the end of next year, the Government will have spent €700 million in on-farm investment since the scheme’s inception in 2001. The Government has now committed extra financial resources with at least €615 million being paid between 2007-09. For this year alone, expenditure on the scheme will exceed €377 million, following the provision of an addition €195 million last October.

The new suckler cow scheme, which was agreed in partnership and is worth €250 million, will be honoured in full. With regard to the 2008 scheme, a premium of €80 per animal will also be paid, with €33 million to be paid out this year while a further €44 million has been provided in 2009 to pay the remaining claims of 2008. The balance of €173 million will then be paid to participating farmers over the remaining life of the scheme over the next four years. The amount of the premium will depend on the participation rate for the final four years of the scheme. I should like to see the scheme based on progressive payments and I would urge the Minister to look at that, with a certain number being paid the full rate, and then to have it divided afterwards.

It is worth bearing in mind that by the end of 2009, €2.3 billion will have been paid out to tens of thousands of farmers under the disadvantaged area scheme and the Department will be making payments of over €220.4 million under this scheme next year. This represents a reduction in overall funding of 14%. The Minister has had no choice but to reduce expenditure but he has said that the reductions will be implemented in a targeted manner. This will be achieved by reducing the maximum limit on which payments are made to 34 hectares and also by way of a small increase in the stocking density requirement. It is expected however, that the majority of farmers will not suffer any loss in their payments under this scheme. There are 102,000 participants in the scheme at present and 67,000 will experience no reduction in their payments. There will be no reductions whatsoever in payments on holdings up to 34 hectares.

The Common Agricultural Policy has been very generous to Irish farmers in the supports it has offered. We have received €41 billion in net receipts from Europe since we joined the EU and three quarters of all that money has gone to agriculture and rural development. Between 2007-13, a further €12.2 billion will go towards financial support for the operation of the single farm payment, REPS, on-farm investment, the disadvantaged area programme and so forth.

[588]The Minister recently negotiated the CAP health check for this country and it will deliver €170 million to farmers over the next five years. This deal will mean €100 million worth of additional milk production and over three years and it will also mean €70 million worth of additional payments to farmers. Milk quotas will be increased by 1% annually for each of the next five years. The Minister will then consider the market situation so as to phase out the milk quota system smoothly when the quotas are finally abolished by 2015. The Minister has always been at pains to emphasise that he believes a soft landing is necessary in these circumstances. An abrupt ending of the system would necessarily cause a very sharp increase in production and a resulting sharp price decline.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Is there any crisis at all in agriculture?

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  The Deputy will get a chance to speak in a minute.

Including the 2% quota increase already in place for 2008, this means an additional 500 million litres of milk produced in this country——

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  The Deputy should get a copy of the Macra na Feirme script.

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  ——when the changes come into effect. In addition, the adjustment in the butter fat reference is equivalent to another 2% in milk quota in 2009, and this increase is in addition to a 2% increase already in place for 2008. During the CAP health check, the Minister doggedly pursued the issue of additional funding for farm payments and a change in the provision that will allow him to target specific sectors which are in need of special assistance. This will enable him to support sectors and regions which are experiencing particular pressure. I particularly ask the Minister to put this funding towards the sheep sector in which incomes have been vastly reduced over the last few years. It is almost at the stage of collapse and if some guarantees are not forthcoming in the near future there will be no sheep industry in this country.

The Minister also pressed for the use of unspent funding from the national single farm payment ceiling to fund these measures.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  The Deputy is now over his time.

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  I am sorry about that.

None of us can afford to be unreasonable in our pleas for special treatment when we know only too well that the resources at our disposal have been reduced suddenly and drastically and there are so many competing demands on the national coffers. We have an obligation to spend taxpayers’ money efficiently and carefully.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  The Deputy should conclude, please.

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  We have to continue to promote enough activity in the economy to maintain our living standards so it is vital that the correct budgetary strategy is implemented. I compliment the Minister for what he is trying to do, in very tough stringent times, to keep the farming sector alive and ensure young farmers have a future in this country. I gladly support the Government amendment.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  I sympathise with my colleagues, Deputies Scanlon and Aylward, that they, poor divils, had to come in here and read out those scripts.

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  I prepared my own speech.

[589]Acting Chairman: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  There is no need for cross-talk. Deputies must speak through the Chair.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Deputy Scanlon used the words “hope”, “hopefully” and “probably”.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Hope springs eternal.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Then Deputy Aylward spoke. I was surprised that he, being a farmer himself, came in and read a script. If I were you, I would have refused to read that script.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  The Deputy must recognise and speak through the Chair.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  If I were Deputy Aylward, I would have refused to read out that script on behalf of Fianna Fáil.

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  It was not prepared by Fianna Fáil, but by me.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  I want to focus on two issues, the early retirement scheme and installation aid. The majority of communications I received from my constituents were on these two issues. People applying for early retirement have signed over their land or rented it and have signed a legal document on which they cannot renege. Applicants who have applied for installation aid have done their 160 hours and obtained their green certs. Some of them have rented land and others have acquired land and signed legal documents for it. These people have gone out and purchased animals.

One man told me his father had black whitehead cows, but because their day is gone he went out and bought in-calf Limousin heifers, on which he spent a significant amount of money. He did so because he had a legal document and expectations. He did not spend 160 hours doing a course or apply for a herd number for the crack. He had a legitimate expectation that he would qualify for installation aid of €15,000. The man who signed over his land to a family member or who leased his land to a third party had legitimate expectations that he would be entitled to early retirement at 55 years of age.

There are people in my constituency now whose sons or daughters can, legally, put them out on the side of the road. Some people have agreed long-term land leases to third parties and they can effectively be put out on the side of the road. These people entered these schemes with the legitimate expectation that they would qualify for the grant, but in one fell swoop the Minister pulled the grants. It is for this reason that I am so surprised Deputy Aylward could come in here and read a prepared speech, particularly as he is a farmer himself.

We need young people to enter farming. It was for this reason the scheme was initiated. It proposed to encourage young innovative farmers, like the man whose father had black whitehead sucklers, but whose son wanted to improve his herd and move to Limousins. He spent the money, but is now left at the side of the road. He will not qualify for installation aid and his father who has signed over the farm to him will not qualify for the early retirement scheme.

Let us be serious about this issue. People speak about all the money that has been gained by Irish farmers from Europe. That money was for schemes that were set up to bring young, innovative people with new ideas into agriculture. This is what we need. I commend Deputy Creed on raising this motion in the House.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  The following Fine Gael Deputies are sharing time. Deputies Andrew Doyle, Paul Connaughton, Tom Hayes, Michael Ring, Pat Breen, John Perry, Denis Naughten and Phil Hogan.

[590]Deputy Andrew Doyle: Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Last year the IDA spent €2.3 billion on capital investment and job creation. It achieved 9,216 jobs, but in the same timeframe some 9,363 jobs were lost. The spending figures for the agriculture sector vary, but approximately €2 billion or €3 billion was spent on the sector. Some €66 million was spent on the early retirement scheme and installation aid. During this time, the moneys were put in to support an industry that produces €9.2 billion to the Exchequer, 75% of which is spent in the domestic economy. It is reckoned that IDA-type industry jobs only spend approximately 8.1% in the domestic economy.

I do not raise these figures in order to criticise the IDA. No doubt it will continue to go out and spend money to try to bring in new industry and employment, be it in IT, financial services or wherever. It will introduce imaginative, stimulus packages to do this. The installation aid and early retirement scheme were but a stimulus package for farming and young farmers. We need young, trained professional farmers and at the first sign of optimism, we saw an upturn of 25% — not an insignificant figure — in the number of young students enrolling in agricultural colleges.

However, what has the Government done? It has removed €9.3 million from its spend on what was the most effective stimulus package ever put in place for farming. It has removed a further 13% from research and development, 9% from Bord Bia and a further 8% from Teagasc. Research, training and education have all been affected and taken away from our greatest natural resource. A month ago, Gordon Brown put in place an investigation into the security of food for the 70 million citizens for whom he is responsible, but we are potentially closing down our greatest natural resource.

I will make two further points. The national farm survey shows the average full-time farmer’s income is €43,900. If we remove the average of €900, which is the amount taken away from disadvantaged areas, this equates to a levy of over 2% on top of a levy. Ordinary workers would need to be earning €90,000 to have the same amount of money removed.

I heard the debate today and have seen news reports that inform us that certain fish are endangered species. Outside the Department of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, there are two endangered species, sheep and sheep farmers. The Minister can make a decision on the sheep sector, but he is waiting until 16 December for some reason. I speak as a sheep farmer who produces one of the healthiest meats one can eat. If the Minister wants to preserve the sector, he should swallow his pride and make an announcement tonight rather than wait until 16 December. The sheep and sheep farmers will stay camped outside the Department until he does.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  I cannot understand why the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and food is not in the House tonight.

Deputy Trevor Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  He will be.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  He should be. It is his place to be here from the beginning. No disrespect to the Minister of State, Deputy Sargent, but this is an important national debate on agriculture and the senior Minister should be sitting there beside him.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Hear, hear.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  I am sorry the Minister is not here to hear me say this, but he should pay the sheep farmers.

He should do so because this has nothing to do with the budget. The money is there and while there are few enough sheep farmers at present, there will be far fewer unless this is done. [591] It has been disastrous that it was not done in the past three or four weeks before matters got out of hand completely.

  8 o’clock

In the few minutes at my disposal, I wish to discuss a fundamental principle that was broken by the Government when it reduced the area-based payment. Since 1972, under the Treaty of Rome, the disadvantaged areas payment has been one of the most fundamental principles. Everyone is aware that a farmer on 100 acres of dry free-draining soil has a better chance in this life than one on 100 acres of rushes and wetlands. A fundamental principle on which the European Union operated down through the years was that a handicap existed in this regard. I spent years trying to extend this payment to those areas that were duly entitled to receive it and probably have walked more acres than any other Minister in history.

However, six days before travelling to Brussels to start the round of negotiations on the revision of the Common Agricultural Policy, the Minister savaged the area-based payment. How can he stand up to the eurocrats and bureaucrats in Brussels and claim he believes area-based payments are important for every farmer who works on difficult soils in Ireland? They will simply reply that he himself did not believe this to be the case when he cut the payment in the budget. This is a fundamental principle and the Minister should be absolutely ashamed that he allowed himself to be talked into this cut. I do not know what is happening in Agriculture House. Alternatively, is the Minister like the Lone Ranger at the Cabinet table in that he is without a friend in the world? If he does not have a friend at Cabinet, what kind of case can he put when in Brussels? While I hope I am wrong, I discerned the end of area-based payments when the Government introduced this reduction, which merely constitutes the tip of the iceberg.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  The agriculture and food production industries are of vital importance to Ireland’s economic recovery as much of its gross domestic product comes from agriculture and food-related industries. I wish to question the status of the national rural development strategy. The package is worth €5.7 billion and includes REPS payments, disadvantaged area payments, the early retirement scheme, installation aid and farm investments. Close to half this funding is received from the European agricultural fund for rural development. When first launched, the then Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food cited the package as evidence of the Government’s commitment to farmers and to rural Ireland. It also was meant to help Ireland’s rural economy to diversify and become more competitive internationally.

I question how the funding could be decimated 18 months later, if the Government recognises its importance. How can the Government pay lip service to the notion of social partnership in this manner? The Government cannot allow groups such as the IFA and other farming bodies to enter discussions, make agreements, co-operate and work together to make the best plans for this industry only to then fail to honour such agreements and to renege on such vital funding for this extremely important industry. As only 8% of Irish farmers are under 35, young and talented farmers should be retained. Young people are the lifeblood of any industry and their energy, ideas and commitment will continue to benefit this industry for years to come.

I refer to some of the comments made earlier by some of the Fianna Fáil Members and to those made by Deputy Dooley in particular. Last Sunday, I addressed almost 7,000 farmers in Ennis, County Clare. Although there was no sign of Deputy Dooley at that meeting, I overheard him stating this evening that he did not hear the trouble in which farmers find themselves.

[592]Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  He is not present now either.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Had he only travelled to Ennis, a few miles from where he lives in Mountshannon, he would have heard thousands of them saying how badly off are rural Ireland and rural people. One reason the Minister is so out of touch is that his backbenchers are telling him that all is well. This is what is wrong and this is what must be changed.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  I note the Minister has entered the Chamber and I plead with him to meet the sheep farmers who are protesting outside Agriculture House. Someone suggested to me today that while the sheep are outside, there are sheep inside as well. I suggest to the Minister that it is not right to have those farmers out there. He has scheduled a meeting on 16 December and I call on him to meet the sheep farmers and make whatever announcement he intends to make.

First, I must compliment the Minister, who went to Europe in respect of single payment funds. He has been allowed to use that money and all sections of the IFA and everyone else agree that this money should be devoted to the sheep sector. I call on the Minister to give that money to the sheep sector immediately. I will provide a simple example to the Minister. One area of south County Mayo used to have nine farmers engaged in sheep production. Seven farmers have ceased sheep production and another has died, thereby leaving only one person engaged in sheep production. Unless something is done about the sheep industry, people will leave it. This is what has happened in the west and such people will be lost.

The cuts to the disadvantaged areas scheme also constitutes another attack on the west. Deputies Dooley, Aylward and others should recall that 18 months ago, they put out statements nationwide stating the Green Party would be bad for Fine Gael, were the former to enter Government with the latter. While the Green Party is bad, Fianna Fáil is worse and it is time to get rid of Fianna Fáil because it is letting down rural Ireland and the farmers. The visitors in the Gallery do not wish to be there this evening and would prefer to be at home looking after their families, farms, cattle and sheep. Instead, however, the Government is telling them there is no need to be present because everything in agriculture is great. This is not the case and what the Government is doing to them is disgraceful. The Minister should meet the sheep men——

Acting Chairman: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  One minute remains to the Deputy.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  I need 20 minutes to try to get my message through.

The Minister should meet the sheep men. What is being done to the farming community, which is the backbone of rural Ireland in particular, is not right. These people were not to be found in the tent in Galway but for the past 20 years have been farming and trying to make a living. They have been attacked by Ireland and Europe and in the World Trade Organisation talks. The Minister should do something for the sheep men and women to try to keep them at home and on the land. The Minister should meet them tomorrow and should not leave them outside the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in this cold weather for the next few weeks. He should meet them tomorrow and should then announce the package that is available. Were he to do so, he would be doing the decent thing and I would consider him to be a decent man. He should do so tonight.

Deputy Pat Breen: Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Although last Sunday was a cold and frosty day, 7,500 angry farmers braved the cold and marched through the streets of Ennis to protest at the recent cold and callous budget cuts that affected every farmer, young and old. I was delighted to be part of [593]that protest and believe the absence of Ministers and Government Deputies, including Deputy Dooley, shows the extent of their embarrassment in respect of the manner in which farmers have been treated by the Government. Following the march, the Minister came out of hiding and appeared on both local and national radio to try to defend the cuts. While I heard the Minister on Monday morning speaking on Clare FM, it was a pity he did not debate the issues with Padraig Walshe, who came on immediately after the Minister went off the air. However, the Minister did not wish to do so because he could not defend the cuts.

Deputy Brendan Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  That is not correct. I was asked to do a one-to-one interview.

Deputy Pat Breen: Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  The facts are that 3,752 suckler farmers in County Clare will lose an average of €713 each from the suckler welfare scheme. A total of 2,500 farmers will lose €1,000 each because of the disadvantaged area cuts. That amounts to €5 million from County Clare alone because two schemes were cut.

The loss of installation aid was a major blow to young farmers, many of whom had decided to take up farming full-time as a result of the decline in the construction industry. That once-off payment of €15,000 was a tremendous help to many young farmers, particularly for legal fees on land transfer. The cuts to the early retirement scheme was another major blow to young farmers because this scheme was an incentive to elderly farmers to transfer their land to younger farmers. I believe the Minister is completely out of touch with rural Ireland. Instead of encouraging young farmers back to the land, he is driving them to emigrate to Australia and elsewhere. I refer to the cuts in two schemes alone. Farmers still will be obliged to pay the 1% levy on gross income before capital allowances, as well as costs pertaining to health, education, school transport fees, VAT and fuel increases, to name a few. How could the Minister allow these draconian cuts in his Department? Has he a voice at the Cabinet table?

The IFA president stated on Sunday last that farmers will not go away. Farmers will not shy away from vicious attacks on their livelihoods. I ask the Minister to listen to rural Ireland. I ask him to listen to some of the Fianna Fáil councillors who attended the march on Sunday last. They were not happy punters after their meeting in Tullamore.

US President elect Barack Obama stated during his campaign: “A good compromise ... is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognise it”. I urge the Minister to compromise. He can do a U-turn. His colleagues have done so on other issues in this hastily arranged budget. He should be recognised as a Minister who defended the farming communities, not as one who sold out on rural Ireland.

Deputy John Perry: Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  I compliment Deputy Creed on bringing this important motion to the House. The motion focuses on the cutbacks being imposed by the Government on the agriculture sector. These cutbacks are short-sighted and they have provoked widespread opposition in rural Ireland, an opposition well dramatised by the presence this week of a few quality sheep from the Ox Mountains in Sligo outside the main entrance to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Farmers were disproportionately targeted in the budget. Instead of giving them a new lease of life, the Minister has ensured that agriculture suffered some of the most significant cuts in the budget. As a result of these cutbacks, many farmers, in particular low income farmers in the west, will not be able to make a living from farming. The future of this crucial indigenous sector has been thrown into disarray by cutting out key incentives to attract young farmers.

The early retirement scheme has been scrapped. The purpose of this scheme was to support farmers who decide to cease their agricultural activity for the purpose of transferring holdings [594]to younger farmers. With the suspension of the scheme farmers who wish to pass on the family farm and avail of this early retirement option are now inhibited from doing so. The decision to halt this scheme indefinitely places a serious question over the future of farming in this country.

The young farmers’ installation aid scheme has also been scrapped. This scheme was introduced as an aid to young farmers to become established in farming. Now the €15,000 incentive to young farmers entering the sector is gone. This scheme is one of the few ways in which the Government can assist farmers without having to get clearance from the EU as it does not constitute a state aid.

The disadvantaged area scheme has been cut back. This scheme was designed to provide support for farmers in less favoured areas to compensate for additional costs and income foregone related to maintaining agricultural production in these areas. The scheme benefits a large number of farmers in the north west. It contributes in a practical way to the maintenance of the countryside, the protection of the rural environment and the maintenance of a viable rural society.

Disadvantage area payments are made to 1,155 farmers in Sligo and 1.058 in Leitrim. Under the suckler cow welfare scheme, there are 2,168 farmers in Sligo and 2,127 in Leitrim. These cuts follow on from the suspension of the farm improvement scheme.

With regard to the sheep sector, farmers are telling the Minister that he has gone back on his clear commitment to allocate the money, secured from the EU, for a sheep maintenance grant. Farmers’ leaders want the Minister to confirm that the unused single payment funds will be delivered in full to the sheep sector. I support this demand by farmers. In this sector there are obvious problems of reducing flocks and pressure on the prices farmers get for their lamb and sheep leading to their falling incomes. Some producers are leaving the sector, which needs help now.

The cutbacks in the agriculture sector will result in a decline of 10% to 20% in farm incomes. These cutbacks will have a serious impact on the smaller farmers in the most disadvantaged areas of the north west. The livelihoods of thousands of farmers from the west have now been put in jeopardy by the Government. Taking this money out of the rural economy will have knock-on effects in the loss of on-farm and off-farm jobs with little or no possibility of those losing their jobs getting a job elsewhere. These cutbacks will drive existing part-time farmers out of business and drive those struggling to remain full time in the business into a marginal standard of living.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Everybody including farmers accepts that difficult decisions needed to be made to balance the books in the budget, but this is an issue of equity and fairness. The budget published in October specifically targets farmers, especially young and small farmers.

By cutting the disadvantaged area payments, it is targeting the most marginal land in the country and as a result, the most vulnerable farmers. Some 1,600 farmers throughout County Roscommon will lose on average €1,500 in this measure alone. A thousand farmers in County Leitrim will lose on average €1,300 on the disadvantaged area payment.

The cuts in the early retirement scheme, the installation aid, the suckler cow scheme and the farm waste management grant send a clear message that as far as the Government is concerned there is no future in agriculture and the only choice for young people interested in farming is to take the boat, or take the plane and be taxed, and leave the country.

[595]The agricultural cuts announced in the budget are only part of the rural dirty dozen of cuts that impact on education, on rural development and on the elderly. Some have suggested that the modulation cuts, about which the Minister gave himself a clap on the back in Brussels, should be used to subvent this. They should not be used for that purpose.

This is about equity and fairness. The agricultural community has been penalised more than any other sector in the Irish economy and the funding that has been made available because of the penalty put on farmers on the single farm payment must be ringfenced for the sheep sector.

There is a deficit in sheep meat within the European Union. Deputy Sargent, the Green Party Minister of State, would talk about food miles and about the carbon cost in bringing food the whole way around the world. Here is a way that we can solve that problem. Instead of bringing sheep meat from New Zealand, let us produce it here in Ireland and let us support Irish farmers to do so.

The reality is the budget cuts take €8.5 million out of the local economy in Roscommon and Leitrim. This is money that will cut the fabric of rural Ireland and cut the backbone out of the local economy. At present, we are losing 78 jobs a week since the Taoiseach took over the running of the Government, and that number will increase with the cutbacks that have been announced in the budget. I commend the motion to the House.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I thank Deputy Creed, and my colleagues for sharing time on this important agricultural motion. We are living in a different economic era. We know there is very little money in the country. In view of Deputy Cowen’s recession, as Minister for Finance for four years and as Taoiseach, we are brought to the point where we must look at savings to be made. We in Fine Gael are not immune to that fact, but we object to the productive sector of the economy being allowed to be further eroded and the financial viability of job creation in the future, whether in manufacturing, agriculture or the food industry, being called into question. This is not the way to address our problems.

The economic climate is so serious and so consequential on the decisions made by the previous Government to increase our cost base so tragically that it is allowing farmers and those in the food industry to be consequential people in rural Ireland. There is no point in having Deputy Ó Cuív as Minister for rural development dispensing money for rural assist schemes if there are people already in the food industry in agriculture who are gainfully employed and want to remain so. Agriculture was always the old reliable for rural survival and job creation in rural Ireland. The Government wants to curtail incomes to farmers and new entrants into our economy.

The budget has been changed already on three occasions — on health, social welfare and the income levy. I can tell the Minister where he can get money. There are five sets of inspectors criss-crossing Ireland carrying out inspections on farms under the nitrates directive and other issues. Cut their expenses and those post immediately.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Hear, hear.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Start there in order to find the money necessary to ensure that we eliminate bureaucracy and put viability back into farm incomes.

The Minister picked the wrong priorities in terms of stopping young people getting into farming and in cutting the incomes in disadvantaged areas by 25%. He has no priority for agriculture and that is why I commend the Fine Gael motion to the House.

[596]Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Deputy Trevor Sargent): Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I thank all who took part in the debate yesterday and today. Regrettably, most of the contributions from the other side of the House failed to have any serious regard for the real state of the public finances.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  That is not true.

Deputy Trevor Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  It has changed. Only yesterday we saw the November Exchequer returns show a further deterioration in tax revenues.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Look at the Government’s deserted benches. Over 70 Members from the Government benches are not present to hear the Minister of State.

Deputy Trevor Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  No Minister could take any pleasure from having to reduce payments to farmers or suspend various schemes but difficult times demand difficult decisions. What the Opposition will not acknowledge is that our Department will still be supporting farming with €3.26 million next year. Unsurprisingly, not one Opposition Deputy referred to the fact that spending on REPS is increasing by 7% next year to a record €355 million, with payments to new entrants and those transferring to REPS 4 increasing by 17%.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  What else would they do?

Deputy Trevor Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I have to fill in some of the gaps in the debate.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  It was not part of the debate.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  The Minister of State should confine himself to the motion.

Deputy Trevor Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Several speakers suggested that income cuts would be made to the suckler cow welfare scheme. As the Minister made clear last night, however, this is a misleading and disingenuous representation. The partnership agreement states in regard to the introduction of a new suckler scheme that funding of €250 million will be allocated from the rural development funding package.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Who will get the €80 next year?

Deputy Trevor Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  The Minister has ensured this commitment will be honoured in full and it is about time that the Members opposite stopped misrepresenting the position. This is a new stream of income for Irish farmers, with the first payments only now being made, and it cannot therefore be regarded as a cut in farm incomes in 2009.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  It will be €20 next year.

Deputy Trevor Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  By the end of this month, €33 million will have been paid and a further €44 million is being paid in the early months of 2009.

In regard to installation aid and early retirement schemes, the Minister has repeatedly stated that he is anxious to revisit the decision to suspend their entry as soon as circumstances permit. He indicated this during his contribution to last night’s debate and again during Question Time today. As in any profession, we acknowledge the necessity of encouraging new blood and we appreciate the value of the installation aid grant in that regard. We are aware that many potential applicants were at an advanced stage in the preparation of their installation aid applications when entry to the scheme was suspended on 14 October. Only this afternoon, the [597]Minister informed the House that people whose applications were significantly progressed when entry to the scheme was suspended are a priority and that he would like to see those applications advanced as soon as possible. This is a temporary suspension of the scheme and he is anxious to see it reinstated as soon as practicable.

I listened to Deputy after Deputy demand a ewe maintenance payment. Various speakers put the payment at between €20 and €30 per ewe. We need clarification on Fine Gael’s position.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  It is better than what you are doing.

Deputy Trevor Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I am clarifying our position.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  You will give them Brussels sprouts.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Minister of State without interruption.

Deputy Trevor Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  The Minister has secured national discretion in the CAP health check for the operation of specific supports funded from the single payment ceiling. Last night he stated:

Like other sectors of the economy, Irish agriculture is undergoing a challenging period but it is not without opportunities. An example of these opportunities is the market for organic production, which has grown by 82% in the past two years.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  From nothing.

Deputy Trevor Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Despite the current economic difficulties, a growth rate of 14% was achieved up to October 2008 according to Bord Bia research.

Deputy Seymour Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Congratulations.

Deputy Trevor Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  The outcome of the CAP health check presents a real opportunity to position our world class dairy sector to take advantage of the abolition of milk quotas in 2015. The securing of an increase in production capacity of 9.3% by 2014 is a considerable negotiating achievement and a tribute to the Minister and his team.

The Minister has undertaken to revisit the decisions as soon as circumstances permit and, in the meantime, there is an extensive programme to be pursued. A favourable outcome was achieved in the CAP health check, with benefits worth €170 million for Irish farmers. Landmark achievements in the area of animal health have been delivered and my Department will be spending €3.26 billion to support the sector next year.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  I rise tonight to support the small, the old and the young farmers of Ireland, to whom this Government and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food have done so much damage since summer. I fear the damage that has already been done to the agricultural sector, which will take years to repair, is only the first stage on a slippery slope of abandoning those who derive their income from the land of our country. My biggest fear is [598]that it is the first step in a litany of damage that the Minister will do to this vital sector of our economy.

The Minister, who is only a few wet months in the job, will not even admit that it is wet and extend the time for the farm waste management scheme to be completed. He allowed this budget to attack the young, the elderly and those on low incomes in the agricultural sector even though he is charged on behalf of the people with protecting and securing its future.

The provisions in this budget can only be described as a slash and burn policy for the agricultural sector. Slash the ambitions of young people planning a lifetime in farming, slash a quarter of the income of small farmers and burn the hopes of those who want to take it easy at the end of their working lives. The Minister allowed the Minister for Finance and his mandarins to ride roughshod over the agricultural sector. That does not surprise me, however, because does anyone know a barrister who ever assisted in solving a problem?

As the IFA leader, Padraig Walshe, has stated on a number of occasions, the Deputies opposite — and God knows a lot of them are here tonight — have betrayed and forgotten their roots.

Deputy Noel O’Flynn: Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  Is he a supporter?

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  I refer to those who stood and gave these cuts a standing ovation on the night of the budget. Like poker players, they will sneak their hands under the table tonight to support the cruel and miserable cuts targeted at the weakest members of the farming community. No wonder they have reached a historic low in their support.

Why has the Minister abolished the farm retirement scheme, which encouraged those coming to the end of their working lives to make way for the new young and energetic farmers who will improve productivity? If this Government’s policy is indeed to invest in the economy, where are the investments in agriculture in this budget? The investment programmes have been taken away and bureaucratic blockages have been erected. The Minister is trying to blame Brussels when all he had to do was copy his counterpart in Northern Ireland by lifting the telephone to request an extension to the scheme now being closed on 31 December. He has done nothing to improve the lot of the farmer or the fisherman, and he has done nothing for the food sector or food consumers.

We are approaching the Christmas break and I suggest that it is time for the Minister and his two Ministers of State, Deputies Killeen and Sargent, to go back to their offices and seriously consider what they can do to improve the future of the agricultural sector and alleviate the plight of farmers, some of whom have been camping outside the Department’s doors for the past several days. They do not even have the guts to meet with the sheep farmers to whom they promised €28 million before the last election.

If the Minister cannot come back in the new year with a new deal for farmers, perhaps it is time that he pulled the curtains and got off the stage because all that can be said thus far of his tenure in Agriculture House is — a lot of damage done; do not do more.

Deputy Noel J. Coonan: Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  When the archives dating back to the 12th century were destroyed in the Four Courts in 1922, Winston Churchill wrote to Michael Collins. He stated, “800 years of Ireland’s history may be blown to the four corners of the earth but the title deeds of Ireland are safe”.

[599]How many title deeds of farms throughout Ireland are safe after this budget, with its savage cuts imposed on the farming community and the younger and not so young farmers? These savage cuts are best illustrated by the Macra na Feirme example of a young farmer taking over the farm from retired parents. The cuts he or she would experience are savage — there is €15,000 of installation aid, €15,000 from the early retirement scheme and €1,055 from the disadvantaged area scheme. The suckler scheme is cut by €2,400, with the total loss of income for one year of €33,455. It is savage; could any other sector of the community afford such a cutback? If this does not put such farmers out of business, what does it attempt to do? This is even before we mention the 1% income levy and the abolition of the farm improvement grants.

A close neighbour of mine from north Tipperary was here last night frothing from the mouth — he is not here tonight — and he told me that he had supported Fianna Fáil all his life. His reward for doing so was for the Government to pick his pocket to the tune of €165,000, as he was preparing to hand over his farm to his son and take retirement. That is disgraceful.

The current state of the farm retirement scheme and installation aid amounts to broken promises. They were agreed under social partnership for six years and are included in the rural development programme for 2007 to 2013. CAP reform, with reluctant agreement from the farming community, was accepted to 2013 but that is another broken agreement. The Government has left sheep farmers out in the cold coming up to Christmas because it will not pay out EU funds to which they are entitled.

It is one broken promise after another. How in the name of God can the Minister expect the people to believe a word from his mouth when he tells us this is a temporary measure? It is no wonder the Lisbon treaty referendum was lost and the people are disillusioned with the Government. These schemes represent tremendous value for money and have the potential to create 750 to 800 jobs at a cost of less than €9,000 per job. This can be compared with the €90,000 it costs to create one IDA job here. The Government should be ashamed of itself.

The passion for agriculture was best demonstrated by John B. Keane in The Field, written in 1965. There is much similarity between the play and what is happening today. The play had the characters of the Bull, his son Tadhg and the Bird O’Donnell. There are many like Bird O’Donnell on the Government benches who are urging on this dastardly deed on farmers.

Deputy Johnny Brady: Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  There are many bulls over there.

Deputy Noel J. Coonan: Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Deputy Brady is supported by the Greens and an Independent from my constituency who is happy with the cutbacks.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Deputy Brady is a bit of a bull himself.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  The people of Meath will give Deputy Brady his answer in the next election.

Deputy Noel J. Coonan: Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  I will finish with a quote from the Bird. He said “Don’t do it Tadhg” and I ask the Minister not to do it either.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  I saw a number of budgets in the House — some good, some bad and some mediocre. I have never seen a budget that has dealt a more vicious or savage blow to the farming community than this one. I do not say this because I happen to be in Opposition; I am only articulating what Government Deputies, Senators and public representatives have been saying throughout the length and breadth of Ireland at farmers’ meetings in the past five or six weeks.

[600]Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Hear, hear.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  We said in Letterkenny and other parts of the country that this motion would come before the House before Christmas and I compliment Deputy Creed for introducing the motion tonight. Many Government Deputies have talked the talk at these meetings but we will see tonight how many will walk the walk when needed and when farmers are here to witness it.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Hear, hear.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  We all know there is an economic crisis but the farming community is more than willing to carry its fair share of the burden and make its fair share of payments. With regard to the rest of the population, we had a wage agreement several weeks ago, and many hundreds of thousands of people will get 6% in pay increases over the next two years but the only bloc of people who will not get 6% extra — they will have 6%, 10% or 12% in a reduction — is the farming and agricultural community. They are the backbone of the country.

I come from a county which has lost 12,000 industrial jobs in the recent years. The tourism industry is at a low ebb and the fishing industry is almost non-existent. I need not go into the problems of the construction industry. We depend on farming and agriculture more than ever before, yet the people are being treated in this way in this budget. The budget allowed the Minister of Finance and the Government to put their fists into the pocket of every farmer and take out thousands of euro. The more disadvantaged the area, the more the Government took from the farmer.

Installation aid was introduced by a former colleague, Austin Deasy, way back in 1983 and 1984. Even during the dark days of economic crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, the scheme was always maintained. It was very progressive and enabled new blood to come in to energise agriculture, increase production and supply food and income for many people. The same applied to the retirement scheme.

I know I am short of time. I appeal to the Minister — who is from the north west and understands the west of Ireland — to consider, as has been articulated by my colleagues, the serious crisis facing the hill sheep farmers. If he does nothing else, will the Minister please pay them the premium before the week is out?

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Hear, hear.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  I thank my colleagues for supporting the motion, particularly the Labour Party and Sinn Féin. I welcome Deputy Healy-Rae to the House, and I hope he and Deputy Lowry, who represent rural constituencies, will join us in what is a critical motion because of the signal it sends to a very important industry.

In his remarks Deputy Dooley cast aspersions on those who have travelled from all corners of the country to be in the Visitors Gallery for this debate. He stated this party had bussed in its supporters. In doing so he cast aspersions on the integrity of the IFA, ICMSA, ICSA and Macra na Feirme. I look up to the gallery and see patriots and farmers. I do not care what politics they have. They have a legitimate grievance. As Deputy McGinley has said, they are prepared, as they always have been, to shoulder their fair share of the burden. They will not be a soft touch for Government incompetence in management of the public finances in recent years.

Deputy Andrew Doyle: Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Hear, hear.

[601]Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Hear, hear.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  The Minister has tabled an amendment that fails to address the three critical issues before the House — the installation aid scheme, the early retirement scheme and disadvantaged area payments. If the Minister wants a debate on the CAP health check in the House, I will have it any day. If he wants to come in to defend the 5% increased modulation, we will debate it or consider how it should be spent. If he wants to come to the House to debate the crisis in the dairy industry that will not just put dairy farmers out of business but which threatens the viability of co-operatives and plcs involved in processing milk, I would welcome such a discussion. The Minister should not abuse parliamentary privilege by tabling a motion that fails to address the issues before the House.

Like all my colleagues I have attended meetings in Blarney, Dunmanway and other public meetings organised by Macra na Feirme in Tullamore. I have witnessed the anger of farmers, who acknowledge the difficult times and are quite prepared to shoulder their fair share. I heard one farmer state that if the Government had put 2% on the top rate of tax it would have been fine because it would have been a measure reaching across the board and would have affected everybody. The Government’s action has involved a disproportionate impact on the most marginal of farmers, who are by and large involved in marginal enterprises. These include the sheep and beef sector in particular, involving the cattle and sheep men of the west of Ireland.

Considering the electoral history of Fianna Fáil in the west of Ireland, such people have been significant supporters of the party, but they have been the hardest hit by what the Government has proposed in this amendment. We recognise the very difficult times being experienced by the country and we were a lone voice for many years calling for frugality and restraint with taxpayers’ money in seeking public service reform in the benchmarking area.

We regret that the Government did not heed those warnings preached alone on this side of the House for many years. We acknowledge the serious crisis facing many people now losing their jobs. That is why we have published a different and detailed budgetary framework that will finance the reintroduction of installation aid and the early retirement scheme, as well as reversing the cuts in the disadvantaged areas scheme.

I appeal to my colleagues on the Government benches who represent rural constituencies to ask themselves if what they are voting for tonight is right for the agriculture industry. We are at a crossroads and many young people who want to enter farming have been dealt a serious psychological blow. Meanwhile, many years of planning by elderly people who want to retire from farming have been devastated. If there was a free vote in the House, this motion would be unanimously backed by Members from all sides. I appeal to Fianna Fáil Members to trust their better judgment on this issue and support the motion.

Amendment put.

The Dáil divided: Tá, 75; Níl, 65.

Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby.
Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  Behan, Joe. Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall.
Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine. Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas. Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara.
Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat. Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall.
Information on Margaret Conlon  Zoom on Margaret Conlon  Conlon, Margaret. Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán.
Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary. Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel.
Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank. Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael.
Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán.
Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley. Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul. Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary.
Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan.
Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael. Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus.
Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor.
Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael. Information on James McDaid  Zoom on James McDaid  McDaid, James.
Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas. Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie.
Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael. Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John.
Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael. Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael.
Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J. Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán. Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh.
Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie. Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie.
Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel. Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory.
Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt. Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary.
Information on Christy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Christy O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Christy. Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter.
Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon. Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor.
Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel. Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary.
Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  White, Mary Alexandra.  


Níl
Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán.
Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Ulick Burke  Zoom on Ulick Burke  Burke, Ulick.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe.
Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  Clune, Deirdre. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon. Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour.
Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael. Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda.
Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew. Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J.
Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien. Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn.
Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil. Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul.
Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.
Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic. Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane.
Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur.
Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis. Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John.
Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Sheahan, Tom.
Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Sheehan, P. J. Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Seán.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary. Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.

[603]Amendment declared carried.

Question put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided by electronic means.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  On behalf of the so-called farmers from rural Ireland in Fianna Fáil and, in particular, on behalf of Deputy Healy-Rae, under Standing Order 69 I request that the vote be taken by other than electronic means.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Noel Grealish: Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Deputy Kehoe is playing to the Gallery.

Question again put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 74; Níl, 63.

Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby.
Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  Behan, Joe. Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall.
Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine. Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas. Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara.
Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat. Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall.
Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán. Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin. Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John.
Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy. Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank.
Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael. Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley.
Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope. Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul.
Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel. Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary.
Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie. Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter.
Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan. Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael.
Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus. Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P.
Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom. Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian.
Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor. Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael.
Information on James McDaid  Zoom on James McDaid  McDaid, James. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie. Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel.
Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory. Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt.
Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary. Information on Christy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Christy O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Christy.
Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon.
Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  White, Mary Alexandra.



Níl
Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán.
Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Ulick Burke  Zoom on Ulick Burke  Burke, Ulick.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe.
Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  Clune, Deirdre. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon. Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour.
Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael. Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda.
Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew. Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J.
Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien. Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn.
Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic.
Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis. Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John.
Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Sheahan, Tom.
Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Sheehan, P. J. Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Seán.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary. Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Michael Ring.

Question declared carried.


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