A TD has accused a farmer group of “shocking behaviour” and “abuse” following an online meeting this month.
Fianna Fáil Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte took to social media to issue a statement on the matter, saying: “I’ve been mulling over whether to comment on my recent meeting with the Individual Farmers of Ireland group on Friday, May 14.
She added: “I strongly feel a public statement is necessary, such was the shocking behaviour encountered during the online meeting”.
In the statement, the TD – who serves as the minister of state for disability – said: “I know all too well the importance of farming to our country and the struggles facing farmers and their families.
“I have met with various farming organisations during my time in the Dáil and I understand there are frustrating issues at present and robust conversation and debate with public representatives is to be expected.
“On May 14 I met with the Individual Farmers of Ireland group and I must highlight the shocking behaviour and hostile language used during the meeting,” Rabbitte added.
She claimed: “The abuse levelled at me personally went beyond what I would deem acceptable or fair.
“I won’t name those involved to protect them from the embarrassment, but the language used was simply appalling and I can understand why other public representatives are reluctant to engage with the group if this is normal practice,” Rabbitte remarked.
“I have never encountered such levels of abuse in any forum in my time as a councillor, TD or minister.”
She continued: “We are all trying to make progress on difficult issues and, while I understand not everyone is on the same page, we need to find a way to work together.”
Concluding her statement, Rabbitte said “I wish the Individual Farmers of Ireland group well in their endeavours but if this behaviour is standard practice, I simply cannot continue to engage.”