The downward pressure on Irish beef prices is being replicated in the UK and the UK, writes Tim Ryan from Dáil Eireann.
He said he did not accept that the trade in live exports to the UK and Northern Ireland has collapsed. Total live exports to date this year are over 150,000 head, of which 25,000 went to the UK, an increase of some 3,100 head or 14% up on the comparable period in 2013. Out of this figure of 25,000, some 18,400 went to Northern Ireland, which is an increase of 6% on the same period in 2013.
Speaking during Question Time, he said against the background of the current concerns, the Minister met separately with representatives of the farm organisations, IFA, ICMSA, ICSA, and meat factories in February and March this year. More recently, he invited key stakeholders, including farm organisations, beef processors and relevant State agencies, to a round table discussion on the future development of the beef sector on 17 April and chaired a second meeting on 3 June.
“There have already been a number of initiatives in the wake of this forum,” he said. “These include the beef round table discussions, which will reconvene quarterly to exchange intelligence on market developments and forecasts particularly in regard to supply, demand, prices, product specifications and retail changes. The Minister has committed to launching a beef pricewatch online tool to make price information more accessible and free of charge to farmers.”
Minister Hayes said work has commenced and already, as an initial step, the Department has improved its website in order to make price information more user friendly for farmers.
“The Department is examining the possibility of legislating for the recognition of producer organisations in the beef sector and will shortly be launching a consultation with key stakeholder groups in this regard,” he said. “This initiative could provide a vehicle for collective action by farmers in a way that can give them the advantages of scale and market presence, as well as a useful vehicle for transferring technology and expertise to improve profitability at farm level.”
Agreement has been reached on sale of Clonmel’s Kickham Barracks
Agreement in principle has been reached on the sale of Kickham Barracks in Clonmel to Tipperary County Council, Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe told the Dáil. The Council is developing a masterplan for the entire barracks in consultation with some State bodies that have expressed an interest in the site, he said.
Minister of State Kehoe said that during the term of this Government, four barracks have been closed. These are Kickham Barracks in Clonmel, O’Neill Barracks in Cavan, Columb Barracks in Mullingar and Mitchell Barracks in Castlebar. The closures were effective from March 2012.
McGrath calls for major changes in An Garda Siochána
A very small number of events have done damage to the Garda Siochána whom Independent Deputy Mattie McGrath said he wished to salute and who put their lives on the line day in, day out to maintain peace and stability in the country.
Speaking on a Private Member’s Bill from Deputy Shane Ross which aimed to have independent appointments of senior members of the force Deputy McGrath said the Garda Síochána, or any police force for that matter, cannot police without the full support of the public.
“That is what it is all about; it is a two-way process,” he said. “I have been a member of Muintir na Tíre and community alert for many years, encouraging communities to support the Garda. It is very important the Garda Síochána has the trust of the people.”
“My feeling is that appointments are political,” he said. “That is known and I hope the Minister will make a clean sweep with a new brush because we need to clean out that culture of political appointments and to be able to say without fear or favour that it is the people’s and the Garda’s Commissioner and not someone acting at the behest of a Minister or a Government. What happened recently with the Commissioner and the Minister, who are both gone and which came about under a cloud of darkness, was very unsavoury. We will never know about the trip that fateful night by the Secretary General of the Department to the Commissioner’s home. We must have openness and transparency.”
Deputy McGrath said the Government should go abroad to make appointments because this country is too small.
“I have little faith in the Public Appointments Service because, along with two colleagues from this House, I had to appoint a number of people to the Fisheries Board as the former Minister, Eamon Ryan, had a new idea,” he said. “However, we were not welcome there. It had its own shortlist of people it wanted who were all retirees from other Departments. I happened to be chair of the appointments group and I gladly turned the list upside down and started from the bottom up. We need that culture in the public service to change. We will have to look for people from abroad when making appointments. I wish the acting Commissioner well and do not know what will happen to her but we need people from abroad to come here to clean up whatever mistrust is at the top. There is a feeling in the Garda Síochána that the detective branch has had too much sway. I know it does important work but one cannot have cliques in An Garda Síochána. It is one force serving the public at all times.”