Fianna Fáil has hit out at the total dishonesty being propagated by Sinn Féin in the Seanad on the issue of the extension of the Areas of Natural Constraint scheme (ANC) for hill farmers.

In a deeply cynical political stunt, Sinn Féin used a procedural trick to misrepresent the position of Fianna Fáil. What actually transpired was that the Sinn Féin group put forward an amendment to the Seanad order of business for an ANC hill farmer motion to be taken without debate.

Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue, “This is a characteristic Sinn Féin stunt and displays the utter cynicism of the organisation.

“In a cheap political stroke, Senator MacLochlainn moved an amendment that the motion be taken without debate in the full knowledge that the Oireachtas Agriculture committee was sitting at the same time, and thereby preventing party spokespeople from speaking on the issue in the Seanad.

“Curiously, Senator MacLochlainn, who is a member of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee, chose to remain in the Seanad chamber, rather than contribute to the committee. He refused the Cathaoirleach’s sensible request to defer his amendment by a day, in order to get information from the Department of Agriculture and to allow a standalone discussion on this important subject in the Seanad”.

Deputy McConalogue added, “Let there be no doubt, Fianna Fáil stands fully behind hill farmers and those involved in hill farming know that.  It is regrettable that Sinn Féin prioritises political stunts over discussing the substance of issues.

“Fianna Fáil has consistently called for a review of the ANC scheme to ensure that increased payments reflect the natural constraint of each land type. ANC farmers on the most severely affected land such as mountainous and hilly areas should see an increased payment to reflect the natural handicap of their land.

“The irony of Sinn Féin lecturing others on farming issues will not be lost on those working in agriculture in this country. It might wish to reflect internally on how it’s continuing to abandon the needs of farmers with its hypocritical approach in Europe, its MEPs in Brussels regularly support resolutions from the anti-farmer lobby that are detrimental to Irish farm interests”.