Minister ‘must be prepared to stand up to department officials’

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue is being told that he “must be prepared to stand up to senior department officials” on the matter of the TB Herd History Risk Statements and Reports.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice claimed: “It appears as if recent decisions, particularly the move to issue TB letters to farmers last week, were rammed through by the department without sufficient consideration for their implications.”

Following confirmation from Minister McConalogue that he will reconvene the TB Forum, Fitzmaurice said: “Minister McConalogue must now work to repair the damage caused by these letters and bring all of the stakeholders together as soon as possible.

There needs to be immediate dialogue and discussion. The representatives from all the various farm organisations need to be brought around the table to aid discussions.

“It was thought that the TB Forum would meet recently, only for it to be postponed. However, the minister can now concentrate on arranging this meeting – even it is done digitally,” the Roscommon-Galway TD added.

‘TB Forum has been a failure to date’

Responding to the confirmation that the forum would be reconvened, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Tim Cullinan, said: “The minister must ensure [the forum] delivers real change in the TB programme, including a withdrawal of the herd risk letters and a meaningful opportunity for farmer input.

“The TB Forum has been a failure to date and the new minister must get a grip of the situation and start listening to farmers,” he added.

The IFA president argued: “There is no point in endless meetings where the real issues are constantly avoided.”