Category Archives: Farming

Seanad acceptance does not mean defeat for Water Services Bill – Cullinane

‘Sinn Fein in direct contact with Office of the President.’

Sligo News File Online.

Sinn Féin have said that the fight back against the Governments plans to introduce household water charges remains unfinished business as the Seanad passed the Water Services Bill this evening.
 Speaking from Leinster House, Senator David Cullinane said;

“The Government has failed to listen to the Irish people, despite marching in their thousands outside this parliament on 10th December from across the state to demonstrate their widespread opposition to this unjust tax.
 “The Government Bill narrowly passed through the Seanad this evening due to the support of the majority of the Taoiseach’s 11 nominees who essentially prop up the Government and their failed policies.
 “However, Sinn Féin has committed to exhaust every means possible to resist and prevent this legislation becoming law by using every tool at our disposal through the democratic process and it is not over yet.
 “The people rightly demand a referendum on this issue which is of huge national importance.  The Government will not concede to this demand, but the President has the constitutional power where he may decline to sign this Bill into law on the grounds that it contains a proposal of such national importance that the will of the people should be ascertained by way of a referendum.”

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh added;

“Sinn Féin is in direct contact with the Office of the President where we are seeking clarification around whether invoking a joint petition from Senators and TDs under article 27 of the Constitution requesting that the President declines signing the Bill into law and until a referendum is held is possible.”
 “If this option is ruled out the President within his own constitutional powers has the right to refer the Bill to the Supreme Court.  That is a call for the President himself of course.
 “We believe that every consideration must be given to every option within the democratic process which can potentially stop this legislation becoming law and that there is a moral obligation on us to do so.”

National Roads Authority announces 2015 Sligo roads allocation.

‘Allocation will allow number of key projects to progress over coming 12 months.’

Sligo News File Online.

Sligo County Council has confirmed that a €10 million National Roads Authority allocation will allow a number of key roads projects in the county to progress over the coming 12 months.

The projects include:

N17/R294 Tubbercurry junction construction €815,000.

Grant allocations were received in 2013 and 2014  to advance the design of improvement  works at the N17/R294 junctions just south of Tubbercurry.  The scheme involves the significant upgrade of two adjacent junctions on the N17/R294 including the provision of traffic signals. The above allocation will allow this scheme to be constructed in 2015.

N4 Collooney to Castlebaldwin Road Development Project €3,500,000. An Bord Pleanala approved the N4 Collooney to Castlebaldwin Scheme as presented by the Council on 24th July 2014.

The scheme will provide a new 14km Type 2 Dual-carriageway road with associated works between Collooney and Castlebaldwin and will complete the upgrade to modern standards of the N4 in County Sligo.

The 2015 allocation will allow the Council to continue archaeological investigations and detailed ground investigations and to continue with land acquisition and detailed design issues. 

Cost of the scheme is €100m and when developed will be the biggest infrastructural project to be undertaken in Sligo in modern times.

N16 Lugatober to Gortnagrelly €180,000.

The N16 in County Sligo is substandard from Sligo City to the Leitrim Border.  Sligo County Council has plans for a major realignment of this road.  However taking into account current funding constraints, Sligo County Council intend to develop a 3km upgrade of the N16 in the vicinity of Lugatober. This proposed scheme will realign several severe bends on the existing road and will tie-in with future major realignments. Work has commenced on the constraints study and route selection process with this work continuing in 2015 to the  formal planning stages arising from today’s allocation.

N17 Thornhill Bridge Bend Improvement €672,000.

This scheme is located 1km north of Ballynacarrow village on the N17 at the site of several serious accidents in recent years. 2013 works involved the provision of advanced warning and flashing light signs. Sligo County Council is developing a minor scheme to improve the existing bend at Thornhill Bridge. We expect to complete the planning process for this scheme in early 2015 with construction to be carried out later in the year.

N4 Hughes Bridge Widening Scheme – (N4 Traffic Improvement Scheme) €3,000,000.

The scheme, titled the “N4 Traffic Improvement Scheme”, involves the provision of two additional traffic lanes accross Hughes Bridge by the removal of the existing footpaths on both sides of the bridge
and the carrying out of strengthening works to the existing bridge. It includes the construction of two new dedicated pedestrian/cycle bridges outside of the existing bridge structure on both sides. Ancillary works including services associated with the above are included in the scheme. Specialist contractors will be required to carry out some of these works.

The Scheme is being Project Managed by Sligo County Council’s Major Road Schemes Design Team.  Works  commenced on the widening of Hughes Bridge during week beginning  20th October 2014.  The contract duration is nine months and the works are to be carried out by Contractors L & M Keating  from Clare. 

The 2015 allocation will complete the construction of this Scheme.



‘At national level, the major issue is the ongoing beef crisis.’

Sligo News File Online.

Patrick Kent, President, Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers Association.
Patrick Kent, President, Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers Association.

ICSA president Patrick Kent has outlined a number of key issues which must be resolved in 2015 if confidence is to return to the drystock sector.

“ICSA has been pushing for regulation of the food chain at EU level, and we recently raised this issue with Commissioner Hogan in Brussels,” said Mr. Kent.

“There are significant profits being made by some of the players in the agri-food sector, but these seem to be at the expense of the primary producer. An audit of these food chain margins would provide greater transparency on where the profits are going.

“At national level, the major issue is the ongoing beef crisis. ICSA wants to see all stakeholders honouring the commitments given at the beef roundtable in November, along with the resolution of outstanding issues around bull beef and the expansion of the Quality Assurance bonus, among others. Farmers have not yet
seen any major impact on price as a result of the roundtable forum, which has been meeting since last April,  and unless real improvements are delivered, the future for cattle farmers looks bleak.

“LPIS overclaims penalties continue to cause serious financial uncertainty for many farmers, primarily those in areas of marginal land. There is uncertainty about the possible retrospective application of penalties, which ICSA vehemently opposes, and more than 2000 appeals are still to be finalised. Farmers must get a fair
resolution of this situation as soon as possible,” said Mr. Kent.

“Similarly, there must be a fair deal for farmers in relation to hen harrier compensation, which ICSA has also raised with Commissioner Hogan. Farmers must be allowed to farm their land, and where agricultural activity is limited due to environmental concerns, appropriate compensation must be provided.”


‘…farmers must get fair share of returns.’

Sligo News File Online. 

ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan has told the first meeting of the Food Strategy 2025 Committee that profitability must be the key focus.

“There is no point in increasing food production if the primary producers cannot make a profit,” said Mr. Phelan.

“None of these food companies would exist without farmers to supply them, and farmers must get a fair share of the returns.

“The focus on output cannot be allowed to distract from the need for farming to be viable.  That’s why ICSA believes that increased profit should be the yardstick for any strategy.  It is clear that
the current returns from beef and sheep are not sustainable and this has started to really come into focus as EU supports fall for many farmers. It is high time the entire agri-food sector woke up to
reality,” concluded Mr. Phelan.




‘…we must have transparency around how profits from key products are shared…”

ICSA met with EU Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan in Brussels today (18th December)  and pushed the case for regulation and examination of margins in the retail food chain which apply to key farm products.

ICSA President, Patrick Kent
ICSA President, Patrick Kent

“ICSA believes that we must have transparency around how the profits from key products like beef, lamb and dairy are shared between farmers, processors and retailers,” said ICSA president Patrick Kent.

“ICSA is proposing that the EU Commission needs to introduce a pan-European regulator which would have power to audit the whole retail chain and discern whether there was a fair share of margins allocated to all parts of the chain. 

“ICSA argues that the past twelve months provide ample evidence that farmers are not getting a fair share of the final retail price, in beef for instance.  We believe that this must be the business of the EU Commission given that the success of the CAP is being undermined by farmers losing money in the marketplace. “

According to Mr Kent, Commissioner Hogan was receptive to the ICSA proposals.  “The Commissioner accepts that there is a problem and acknowledges that ICSA has a point in calling for transparency around retail and processing margins.  ICSA believes that where there is abuse of margins, the Commission-appointed regulator
should have the power to impose fines.  In the first instance however, the key requirement is that the regulator would have
power to audit the margins along the retail chain at processor and retailer level.”

ICSA also raised the issue of LPIS overclaim penalties and emphasised that the penalties were very unfair.  “Farmers
are being pulled between environmental demands and agricultural requirements and it is impossible to meet both,” said Mr. Kent.

“ICSA emphasised that these penalties were almost exclusively imposed on farmers on marginal land.  It was accepted that farmers should be entitled to certainty around their applications and should not be at risk of penalties due to ever changing regulations or mapping changes.”

The ICSA delegation, consisting of president Patrick Kent, beef vice-chairman Tom Egan and general secretary Eddie Punch, also raised the problems around the hen harrier designation and the commonage GLAS plans with Commissioner Hogan. 

“The Commissioner seemed anxious to ensure that the commonage GLAS issue could be solved, especially around the contentious requirement for collective agreement,” said Mr. Kent.

In conclusion, Patrick Kent said that the meeting was useful and he looked forward to ongoing dialogue with the Commissioner
and his team. 

Closure of rural post offices averted.

‘Future of network secured.’

Sligo News File Online.

Tony McLoughlin, TD
Tony McLoughlin, TD

Amid fears upwards of 700 local post offices were set to close, Sligo-Leitrim Fine Gael TD, Tony McLoughlin has revealed the future of the services has been secured.

The Coalition it seems is proposing to establish a dedicated business development group with a mandate to “examine opportunities to deliver more government and commercial business through  our post offices.”

McLoughlin says this has come about as a result of a Government review of the post office network announced earlier in the year.

He describes the seeming bold new future now being mapped for the service as the Government “moving towards making our post offices the front office of government.”

The business group, he states, will seek ways to increase the level of government and commercial business going through the post office network.

‘Savage assault’ on member of ICSA National Executive.

Warning on buying goods through advertisements.

Sligo News File Online.

ICSA Leinster vice-president Joe O’Toole has warned farmers to be vigilant when responding to sales advertisements.

“We have recently received a disturbing report of a savage assault on a member of our national executive who had responded to an advertisement of a jeep for sale. He was given directions to a particular location which turned out to be a cul-de-sac, and he and his girlfriend were viciously attacked when they arrived there. He ended up in hospital, and it was only by pure luck that no
money was taken,” said Mr. O’Toole.

“Reports from around the country suggest that this may not
be an isolated incident, and people need to be vigilant.”

“Obviously these are matters for the Gardaí, but ICSA is urging people to take every precaution in such situations. We would advise that people only arrange to view or pay for goods in a safe, public
location and never go alone. If you have any suspicions, report them to Gardaí.”


‘…processors have no intention of abiding by recent agreement.’

Sligo News File Online.

ICSA Beef Chairman, Edmond Phelan
ICSA Beef Chairman, Edmond Phelan

ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan has accused Meat Industry Ireland of completely disregarding the recent roundtable agreement.

“It seems quite clear that meat processors have no intention of abiding by the recent agreement. They are ignoring the commitment to end dual pricing and are showing total disregard for the roundtable process,” said Mr. Phelan.

“Once again the factories are showing their clear disdain for the primary producer, the farmer on whom their business depends. How can farmers be expected to have any confidence in this process when factories obviously don’t take it seriously?”

“Factories have also been dragging their feet on expanding the Quality Assured bonus to include all steers and heifers and to date there has been no engagement with farmers on this.”