Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has echoed comments made by the Taoiseach Micheál Martin regarding An Taisce’s continuing objection to the proposed Glanbia cheese production facility in Belview, Co. Kilkenny.

Speaking on the matter, Minister McConalogue said: “I echo and support the Taoiseach’s comments on the matter.

“Neither I nor the rest of the Government can interfere in the planning process.

“Now appears to be the right time to draw a line under the situation and move on – further disruption and conflict will not serve our sector or, indeed, our country well – as it could impact on our reputation as being an open and FDI [foreign direct investment] friendly country.

“I know the Glanbia and Royal A-Ware development is a Brexit mitigation investment aimed at using the current milk pool to diversify into new product ranges such as soft cheeses,” the minister said, noted that Ireland “faces enormous challenges” in the aftermath of Brexit.

“This is a crucial aspect of our economy in the post-Brexit world where we must diversify away from certain products and markets as a way of ensuring the long-term viability of farm families.”

Noting that Glanbia and An Taisce have been in contact, Minister McConalogue said: “I would urge both sides to engage meaningfully to find common ground for the good of our farmers, our economy and our environment.

“As Minister for Agriculture, I see first-hand how committed our farmers and the wider sector are to delivering on our climate change ambitions. Farmers are following government policy and are very conscious of their environmental obligations.

“Farmers and the land use sector are already contributing to the national effort to address the climate challenge.

“Our farmers have shown tremendous leadership in this area and I am confident that they will continue to do so.

“My ultimate focus as Minister for Agriculture is protecting the incomes and businesses of our farm families to ensure that they can continue their enterprise for this generation and the next.

“There is tremendous and mounting pressures on farmers that is unfair,” the minister concluded.