Independent TD for Kerry Danny Healy-Rae has expressed his “extreme concerns” for the future of rural Ireland, following the formation of the new coalition government between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party.

Deputy Healy-Rae said that while he has “some hope” for the newly-appointed Minister for Agriculture Barry Cowen, he thinks that “Fianna Fáil has very little part in this government”. He said: “Micheál Martin sold his soul to the Green Party.”

The appointment of the Green Party’s Pippa Hackett to a position of Junior Minister of Agriculture is also a concern for Healy-Rae.

“My biggest hope for Barry Cowen is that he doesn’t let the Greens’ tail wag the dog.

“Being a man from the midlands, he hopefully has an understanding of the issues that are affecting people in rural areas and will step up and act.”

‘Suckler farmers are at a crossroads’

Deputy Healy-Rae said he is appealing to Cowen to improve the prospects for suckler farmers in particular.

“Suckler farmers are at a crossroads. I know of many who, after years of their hard work, are thinking of packing it all in because they are earning so little for their produce.

“Then, to make it worse, they are being told by Micheál Martin that they should turn to forestry as a means of income. That is part of the reason I pulled my support for him and voted against him becoming Taoiseach.

I do not want to hear a member of government say once more that forestry is an option for farmers. If they all followed that advice, not only would we lose farms, but we would lose our communities in rural Ireland.

Healy-Rae feels that, overall, the new government is “only focused on Dublin”, which is “evident in the Greens’ attitude to roads”.

“I’m very worried that they are only thinking about Dublin when they talk about public transport.

“We have been promised a bypass in Killarney for nearly 17 years yet we won’t get that any time soon; just more big, shiny buses for Dublin that are funded through carbon taxes paid by people in rural Ireland.

“At this stage, I can just hope Cowen will see the sense in supporting the people in rural Ireland.”