Fianna Fail’s former Minister for Agriculture has given praise to Simon Coveney’s work in the agricultural sector but has warned of the government’s “huge responsibility” in achieving a new way of doing politics.
Brendan Smith was the 2008-2011 Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and also served as Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food from 2004 to 2007.
Smith said he was very pleased how Fine Gael’s former Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, worked “very hard” to progress the 2020 Food Harvest’s during his term as Minister for Agriculture from 2011 until earlier this month.
Smith said the Fianna Fail/Green government had put in place Food Harvest 2020 in 2010 while he was Minister for Agriculture and he had been “very pleased” that the subsequent Minister had remained committed to it.
I’m glad that the projected output and export levels are being reached, which shows the strategy was a very good one,” said Smith.
The Cavan TD is now Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs & Trade, as well as for Border Region Development.
On May 6 An Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced Cork TD Michael Creed would replace Simon Coveney as Minister for Agriculture.
Coveney was appointed Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government in the new Government.
Creed has held several positions on the Fine Gael front-bench including; Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, 2007 – 2010, Health 1989 – 1993, Youth & Sport in 1993-1994 and Education; Arts, Culture & the Gaeltacht in 1994.
I always thought he was a member of the Dail that would be appointed as a Minister and I wish him the very best in his Ministry,” Smith said.
The Cavan TD added that he thought the new government would last a full political term but how it does its business will be critical to its survival.
“During the previous five years we had a government that rammed legislation through the Dail and where the executive made every decision. There was no heed paid to the workings of the Dail, in suggesting improvements in legislation.”
Smith cites the Irish Water controversy being “rammed through the Dail in a few hours” as one case in point.
“At that point we walked out, which I think was the only time our party walked out of the Dail in the five years, in order to voice our total opposition to the inadequate time that was given for a debate on a very important subject.”
Smith said it was up to the Government to ensure it gives the Dail and Seanad a “meaningful role” and to ensure the work of Oireachtas committees is not hindered by government action.
“So there is huge responsibility of the government and the Taoiseach to ensure they bring about a new way of doing politics and Fianna Fail will be playing a very constructive role [in that].”