The weather we are experiencing is more like Christmas than Easter. The Government rightly decided to help farmers because of the shockingly inclement weather. People are losing stock and there is a crisis in farming in the North. On behalf of Fianna Fáil I welcome the decision to support farmers in the North. Farmers in the South are also experiencing huge challenges because of the weather. We had a very wet summer and many farmers failed to make silage or saved only a small amount of fodder last winter. We had hoped for a mild spring but the opposite has happened and we have had an extremely cold spring with no growth. Farmers face dwindling supplies of fodder and are experiencing significant extra costs, which is putting pressure on their cashflow.
Given the extremely harsh weather and the combination of last summer's heavy rain, which had a particular effect on the southern half of the country, with this very cold spring, is the Government proposing to introduce emergency measures to assist farmers, particularly dairy farmers who do not have the option of selling their stock?
We welcome the Government's decision to extend the fuel allowance by one week. In view of the continuing inclement weather, is the Government willing to review that on a weekly basis and to give an undertaking to the House that the fuel allowance will be continued as long as this very cold weather continues? Our stock of turf briquettes is running out and the costs associated with this cold weather are putting serious pressure on people. Can the Tánaiste give me that assurance?