‘The government seems to expect to tax people into changing their behavior’ – Stanley

“It seems that the government has fully embraced taxing farmers in rural Ireland instead of putting in alternative measures.”

This is according to Sinn Féin TD for Laois-Offaly Brian Stanley. He made the comment to AgriLand, while reacting to the formation of the new coalition government between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party.

He said it was clear that the Green Party and the ‘Green’ policy “had won the day”.

He asked:

Where is rural Ireland supposed to find €50,000 to fit-out farms with heat pumps when they have a mortgage to pay as well? The government seems to expect to be able to tax people into changing their behavior and how they do business.

He also said the policies that were set out in the Programme for Government meant that it was “irrelevant as to who was in the office [of Minister for Agriculture] as the policies are vague and show no clear direction for the future”.

He explained:

There is no long-term commitments especially with regard to how Ireland will fare out with its share of the Common Agricultural Policy [CAP] pot.

He also said that “alternative incomes for farming will have to be the name of the game in the future”.

When asked his opinion on the appointments of Barry Cowen as Minister for Agriculture and Pippa Hackett as Junior Minister for Agriculture, he said that he was “less than convinced about their approach”.

He added that he was “very suspicious as the Green Party has won the day in setting the agenda, as is clear to see from the Programme for Government”.

He explained:

The bottom line is that the new €100/t carbon tax rate exceeds the €80/t target set out by the Oireachtas Committee last year, which I was vice-chair of. It has exceeded the targets set out in the government’s action plan on the same issue.

Stanley also said that the make-up of the new government “includes no-one from the western seaboard” and highlighted the issues this will cause for rural people in Ireland. He said: “It’s a good government with regard to transport if you live within the ‘Pale’. If you live outside the ‘Pale’, it becomes a tricky situation…if you travel from a rural area to work in a large town.”

He said he was disappointed that former Seanad member Ian Marshall was not considered by the new Taoiseach to be part of the new Seanad, as his experience “would be useful” and that he was a strong voice for farmers, particularly those from Northern Ireland.

“It is a missed opportunity to not have representation from Northern Ireland, as Sinn Féin would have supported Ian when he joined the Seanad in 2016. His experience within the agri-food sector means that he has the calibre needed to represent the farming community,” he concluded.