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Mac Lochlainn slams ‘bluster and diversion tactics’ as Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael again vote against motion supporting hill farmers

17 May, 2017 - by Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Sinn Féin Seanad Agriculture spokesperson Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has slammed Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael after they again voted against a motion supporting the demands of hill farmers for fairness after the current review of the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme is completed.

The Donegal Senator said:

“Last week, Fianna Fáil spokespersons claimed that they supported the demands of hill farmers but voted against our motion being taken because they wanted a debate on the motion also that the vote clashed with a meeting of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee.

“My Sinn Féin colleagues and I believed these excuses to be just bluster and diversions tactics but we decided to test Fianna Fáil’s sincerity this week so we  proposed that the motion be taken today after a debate and at a time that did not clash with sitting of Oireachtas Agriculture Committee.

“The motion calls for:

·         the retention of mountain sheep grazing (mountain type land) as a separate category after the review of the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme;

·         the payments going forward to properly reflect both the multiple bio-physical and specific constraints experienced by farmers who farm mountain type land, and for those payments to be set at similar rates to the current offshore islands rate; 

·         the new mapped ANC areas to be published in time to have a proper consultation before they are sent in draft to the EU.

“However, yet again, Fianna Fáil backed Fine Gael in voting against the motion.

“They instead cobbled together a blatant diversion of a debate on agriculture with the Minister for next week; a debate that avoids any actual commitments and that attempts to cover up divisions in both parties on this issue of fairness in the next ANC scheme for hill farmers.

“Fianna Fáil’s bluster and diversion tactics fools no one. While the votes of the last two weeks have been frustrating, at least we now know where all the parties stand on this issue.

“Sinn Féin will continue to stand up for the rights of our most disadvantaged farmers. We will not say one thing in front of a packed public meeting and do something entirely different when push comes to shove.” 

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