Greens are Good for Rural Ireland
Michael Fitzmaurice’s recent nosedive into an anti-Green culture war is straight from the playbook of Trump’s America. He is seeking to sow anger and division in rural areas and stir up anti-environment sentiment for his own narrow electoral gain.
The central premise for this bitter division and animosity is that damaging policies on farming are being ruthlessly enforced by the Green party in Government, destroying farm holdings across rural Ireland. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Green Party in Government has been good for farmers. We have helped shape a new Common Agricultural Policy that has redistributed subsidies in a way that brings greater fairness to smaller farmers across the country. We have introduced a 60% grant rate for farmers who want to run their farms and homes on solar power. We have helped shape ACRES, the €1.5 billon agri-environmental scheme that will pay 50,000 farmers across the country to produce food in a more sustainable way over the next five years.
The Green Party has negotiated the largest ever budget for organics and forestry, much of which will flow to farmers and landowners in the very rural areas Michael Fitzmaurice claims to represent. Hundreds of farmers in the West of Ireland now farm organically. The Greens have ensured that €1.5 billion of carbon tax funds will be ring-fenced for farmers this decade.
Michael Fitzmaurice seeks to cast the Greens as enemies of the people. His actions are no different to those who peddle division in US politics. He seeks to create anger and resentment based on conjecture and uncertainty, telling the public that the only way to secure their future is to stick with the past and not seek change for the better. It is short sighted, wrong and dangerous.
The only constant in this world is change. The younger generation of farmers want to do more, and many want to do things differently to the last generation. But Michael Fitzmaurice, with his anti-environment agenda, is determined to shackle us to old ways of doing things that simply aren’t delivering for farm incomes or for the environment.
The world is changing, and we must too. It is our job to help farmers do that, and to pay them to do it, so that we can build a more resilient sector that will survive for generations to come. That is the rural Green agenda.
Michael Fitzmaurice talks of the Nature Restoration Law as if it was dreamed up by Green Party members in Dublin. This is an EU proposal – and it is coming regardless of who is in Government. If Michael Fitzmaurice is Minister for Agriculture in the next Government, he will be compelled to implement it as EU legislation. That is a fact.
Michael Fitzmaurice is not the first politician this week to have a pop at the Green Party. Others have decried bike lanes as an electoral evil. This is more nonsense from politicians who want to stir up anger and cling to the past rather than looking ahead and preparing for the future.
I will proudly fight Michael Fitzmaurice’s new anti-environment party at the next election. His will be a party founded on anger, whipped up by politicians with a manifesto designed to send Ireland back to the past. I don’t want my children to grow up in a country where their politicians angrily denounce policies to tackle climate change, and spout hatred at those trying to help farmers prepare for the future. I will stand on a platform of pro rural Ireland policies, that pay farmers to adapt to the realities of the world we live in.
I will fight for budgets that put money in farmers’ pockets to prepare them for the demands of consumers in five- and ten-years’ time. I will continue to give hope to farmers that in a world increasingly concerned about climate, biodiversity, air quality and water quality, farmers will play a central role in adapting, and we will reward them financially for doing it. I want a rural Ireland fit for the future, not one stuck in the past.