Government ministers are making a mockery of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee by refusing to appear to discuss the pertinent issues facing the horticulture sector and the need for milled peat, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.
The elected representative for the Roscommon-Galway constituency detailed how the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, and the Minister of State, Malcolm Noonan, were all invited before the committee.
However, all have made varying excuses to stall or prevent the meeting. Minister McConalogue agreed to attend if the other two invitees attended, Minister Noonan said he would attend to discuss the matters under his brief, while Minister Ryan declared he was not available.
Speaking on the matter, a frustrated Fitzmaurice said: “It appears as if this is an orchestrated effort by Government ministers to delay or prevent a meeting of the Agriculture Committee going ahead, thus preventing any discussions around coming to a solution so peat could be milled for the horticulture industry.
“It appears as if this Government has no interest in the horticultural sector or resolving any issues around milling peat.
“The facts are that plans need to be in place for machines to be ready to mill peat in two months’ time. However, all that seems to be going on is the compilation of report after report.
“While the agriculture committee has no power to force these ministers to appear before it, it seems as if their responses were organised in order to hinder the meeting proceeding.
“The Committee has decided to write to the Ceann Comhairle’s office in an effort to convince them to appear, but I am not holding out much hope.
“People deserve to know the games that are going on in the world of politics. It is making a mockery of the Agriculture Committee and all of the good work it endeavours to do and would make you question if committees are worth sitting on anymore.
“Have they been diluted to little more than talking shops where ministers can refuse to appear before elected members to discuss specific topics and issues related to their briefs?” he concluded.
For further information contact Michael Fitzmaurice at 086-1914565