Libertas candidates will make defending Irish agriculture their “highest priority” if elected to the European Parliament, Declan Ganley and Raymond O’Malley told a crowd of over 100 people in Castlebar on Tuesday night.
Addressing a campaign meeting chaired by Independent Mayo Councillor and former IFA Sheep Committee Chairman Michael Holmes, entitled “Freedom to Farm – Fighting back for Rural Communities”, Ganley and O’Malley stressed the need to reduce red tape and address unfair regulation, which they said was “strangling rural Ireland”.
Former IFA livestock chairman and Libertas candidate for Ireland East Raymond O’Malley said: “Last week’s Farmer’s Journal was frightening reading for small farmers struggling to make ends meet in this economic climate. On the front page, we saw the announcement that the EU Commission proposes to strengthen the Nitrates directive, further undermining the ability of Irish farmers to compete in an internal market flooded with unregulated foreign produce. On page two, we saw the news that live exports from Ireland were up – followed immediately by the pronouncement that the Commission is planning a new directive to further limit animal journey times and destroy the sector once and for all.” O’Malley continued: “If any farmer is in doubt that our livelihoods are being consciously destroyed by an unelected EU Commission which last year tried to trade away agriculture at the WTO, let them wake up and smell the stench of corruption coming from Brussels.”
Responding to Mr O’Malley, Libertas Leader and North West candidate Declan Ganley said: “Rural Ireland needs a strong voice in the European Parliament. Last year, when Peter Mandelson was trying to destroy Irish farming, not one of our MEPs had the courage to stand up and use their power to call for his resignation. Today, we see more and more destructive layers of regulation being added to the problems faced daily by small farmers. For example, now we are told that small farmers must face inspection by local authorities as well as the Department of Agriculture. How insulting is it that local authorities, which are Ireland’s biggest polluters, now sit in judgement over the beating heart of rural Ireland? We now see also that the turf cutting ban has been postponed for one year – just long enough for our MEPs to win re-election, after which time ordinary people will be driven from the bogs forever. We need a stronger voice in Europe than we have now, and Raymond and I will be that voice’” Ganley concluded.
Cllr Holmes added: “Not too long ago, I met a farmer who in the course of a REPS scheme inspection, was told that he needed to register the three chickens he had in his yard. He was then sent out a 17-page form to do this – for three chickens. This is absolutely crazy. I’m delighted to welcome Declan and Raymond here to Mayo, where their strong leadership for Irish farmers is both needed, and very welcome. When I served with Raymond in the IFA, I saw his strength of character and his vision for Irish agriculture. He and Declan clearly see what no other politicians do – that unless we vote to change our representation in Brussels, Irish farming and the rural way of life will be sold down the river,” he concluded.