Nolan ‘yet to receive indication of plan for marts’ from minister

An independent TD has said that she is “yet to receive any indication” from Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Charlie McConalogue that there is “a roadmap or plan” for marts under Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.

Laois-Offaly TD Carol Nolan said she had engaged with Minister McConalogue’s department on the issue last week, when she highlighted the lack of effective broadband connections in marts.

Nolan said that she has only been told that the minister is “making enquiries into the matter”.

It is almost a full week since I engaged with the minister’s office on this issue, and we are still no nearer to being told how the department is planning to address this issue.

Concerns over this issue were amplified over the weekend when technical issues with online sales systems disrupted business in a number of marts, with some having to cancel sales and send animals home.

“Farmers and marts do not have this kind of time to waste as they suffer through punitive lockdown conditions and the absence of anything resembling reliable broadband at the marts,” Nolan argued.

She continued: “I agree completely with the comments made by chairperson of the Mart Managers of Ireland [MMI] Eimear McGuinness, that many of those who have drawn up these restrictions appear to have little or no insight into how rural Ireland operates.

We simply cannot allow such a vital component of the food chain and the animal sales process to be obstructed.

“Either a plan is put in place to bring about immediate upgrades to the quality of connectivity, or allow the marts to operate with appropriate and responsible levels of social restrictions,” the TD remarked.

“The minister and his department need to demonstrate that they are prioritising this issue,” Nolan concluded.