BY EMMA CONNOLLY
THE people on the streets are listening to us, now the Government will have to engage because we’re not going away.
That’s the feedback from the West Cork farmers who took part in the IFA’s ‘Save Irish Farming’ rally in Dublin on Sunday.
The original plan to stage a large farm family rally had to be scaled back due to Covid numbers, however members feel the tractor convoy was just as effective.
Two tractors departed on Saturday from each IFA county executive area.
Representing West Corkwere the tractors of Michéal Looney of Macroom, who is treasurer of West Cork IFA, and Corney Buckley of Caheragh, who is rural development representative.
Michéal’s tractor was driven by Conor Lehane of Timoleague, while Corney drove his own tractor, accompanied by his young grandson, Gearóid.
They reached Portlaoise on Saturday evening where they stayed overnight and assembled at the Irish Farm Centre in Bluebell on Sunday morning. The West Cork drivers were joined by three other officers of West Cork IFA, chairman Donal O’Donovan of Dunmanway, secretary Gerard Burke of Durrus and dairy representative Ger Lehane of Timoleague. Donal said they got great feedback from people on the city streets, particularly those sitting outside cafés and café owners who came out of their premises to show their support.
‘It all comes down to Cap, the climate action plan and nitrates – the three things which the government isn’t engaging on. What’s coming down the tracks for the sector are the biggest changes this generation will face, and quite simply, the funding hasn’t been put in place for them. We want to meet with the minister, and the Taoiseach, and we want answers.’
Harold Kingston, Munster regional chair and Courtmacsherry farmer, who drove a tractor representing the Cork Central branch said: ‘The reaction we got in Dublin showed the support that’s out there. We’ve said that we can deliver what is being asked of us but the Government’s response has been for Cap funding to go to those who will reduce production while nitrate funding will restrict production.
‘There’s lots of talk, meanwhile we’re looking for answers and the issue is being kicked further down the road. We know we can do this if we just get the support.’
The IFA says it is prepared to ramp up their protests if necessary.