29 November 2008

Farmers protest against Fianna Fáil in Co. Offaly

While more than 8000 teachers and parents protested in Donegal town today against cuts to the education budget (see my earlier entry below), the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) demonstrated outside the Tullamore Court Hotel in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, where Fianna Fáil were holding their National Councillors' Forum Annual Conference.

Around 200 Fianna Fáil county and city councillors from around the country gathered for this meeting and had to pass the gauntlet of the angry farmers, who displayed banners, placards and a small flock of miniature plastic models of cows and sheep in front of the conference hotel.

ICSA's angry protest was directed against recent cuts in the agricultural budget, and especially against a reduction of support schemes for small farms, which affects mostly people farming in the west and north-west of Ireland, where they raise cattle and sheep.

The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and three other government ministers were addressing the Fianna Fáil meeting, and it has been reported that especially Brian Cowen gave "a rousing speech" to his party members.
This is probably quite necessary, as the current unpopularity of the Irish government worries many Fianna Fáil councillors, particularly in light of the up-coming local elections next year.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment Mary Coughlan, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey, Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe and Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith also addressed the meeting and then faced the councillors in a questions-and-answers session, especially over the details of the controversial 2009 Budget.

However, in their usual arrogant way neither the Taoiseach nor his ministers had any time for the protesting farmers and showed no concern for their problems. I am sure the farmers - and not only those who were present today in Tullamore - will remember this when they cast their votes in future.

The Emerald Islander

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