Former Irish president’s remarks blasted for ‘sheer disconnect’

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson has been called out for “sheer disconnect” from Irish agriculture by the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

The farmers’ organisation was responding to comments made by Robinson on RTE in which she allegedly seemed to suggest that responding to global warming will require whole populations becoming vegetarian.

Slamming this suggestion, president of the ICMSA Pat McCormack said that thousands of Irish people who work in the state’s agriculture sector would be taken aback by the sheer disconnect demonstrated in her remarks.

McCormack said that the former president must surely realise that the issue was much more complex than simply urging societies to become vegetarian or vegans.

He said that there are several layers of environmental, agri-economic, socio-cultural and political considerations that have to be incorporated into any meaningful policy.

Addressing the challenge of climate change is not helped by “glib exhortations that involved throwing out millennia of dietary practice while undermining Ireland’s biggest indigenous economic activity – food production”, McCormack added.

The ICMSA president said that whatever solution we adapt is going to cost money and the ICMSA does not see the point in wiping out or undermining the very sectors through which we’ll raise the money needed to address this, adding that they are “the lifeblood of rural Ireland”.

Highlighting healthy diets, McCormack said there is an onus on everyone contributing to these debates to consider the words and remarks carefully given the longstanding issues around human health and welfare.

McCormack said that Mrs Robinson is “of course” entitled to her views but farmers could reasonably expect her to take their “day-to-day reality” as her starting point.

“Climate change is the greatest challenge facing mankind and there’s no room for this kind of facile sensationalism we got from Mrs Robinson – and not for the first time either,” he said.

One of the easiest and most straightforward ways of reducing our individual carbon footprint is to radically examine whether it’s either necessary or desirable to fly around the world from seminar to seminar urging others to give up meat and dairy for the planet’s sake.

“In the list of things we can do to address global warming, superfluous air travel should be a lot higher up most people’s agenda than environmentally sustainable production of milk or meat,” he concluded.