Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

As of today, we have 36 days to go before the Brexit deadline. As if that was not enough worry for many of our farming and rural communities, this morning they woke up to a story on the front page of the Irish Independent suggesting that rural communities and the beef sector in particular, will become the latest pawn in this Brexit debacle. The Irish Independent has reported that the British Government is suggesting the introduction of a range of what it terms are tariff rate quotas to allow produce into the UK without tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The suggestion being picked up from a speech made by the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, is that those tariff rate quotas will be particularly attractive to countries like Brazil, with which we are in intense competition in the British market. While we all know and accept there is no comparison between the quality of our beef and beef from countries such as Brazil, that will not make any difference on the supermarket shelves of Britain if their produce comes in on a tariff-free basis compared with ours.

The Tánaiste does not need to be told about the importance of the beef industry in Ireland. Each year, €2.5 billion worth of beef is exported, 52% of which goes to the UK. That is €1.25 billion worth of our economy currently in peril and awaiting clarity over the course of the next 36 days. Leaving Brexit aside, the beef sector is under enormous pressure, and beef farmers are hugely angry and frustrated at what they see as inaction on the part of the Government to resolve the pressure they are under.

Teagasc suggests that average incomes on cattle-rearing farms in 2018 is just over €10,000 per annum. Cattle prices are down in the beef sector by up to €200 per head, year on year. Thousands of farmers are turning out across the country in the hope of getting some sort of knowledge or indication from the Government that it understands where they are at, the pressure they are under and the importance of their sector to the Irish economy but they are not getting any signals of that understanding. All they are seeing is a Government and a Minister that take the attitude that it will be all right on the night and will be fine but no practical measures are being taken to support them. To add to that frustration, the remarks of the Taoiseach about cutting back on beef consumption did not help their case or situation.

I ask the Tánaiste to comment on that story in the first instance. Has he any knowledge, through his interactions on the Brexit issue, of Michael Gove's plans post 29 March? What plans has the Government in place now to assist the Irish beef sector and to assist Irish farmers in the coming days and weeks to get extra supports from Europe to get through this particular challenge? What work is being undertaken to deal with this threat to our sector?

First, I thank the Deputy for raising this hugely serious issue. As a former Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, I assure the Deputy that I and Deputy Creed and the Cabinet as a whole are more than aware of the potential threats to the agrifood industry and the beef sector in particular.

There are about 130,000 farm families in Ireland and about 100,000 of these get income from beef. Some 60,000 to 70,000 get all of their farm income from beef. When it comes to Irish agriculture in terms of numbers, beef is the most important issue and we are aware of that. That is why the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine has done a detailed assessment of what the impact a no-deal scenario could be in a worst-case scenario. That is not a report that shies away from outlining the stress and pressure that this sector could be put under if it is not supported and managed by the Government and by the EU in that worst-case scenario. As result, we have been speaking to the European Commission very directly and to the European Commissioner, Phil Hogan. We have made it clear, and the Commission has made it clear that it will support us, that we can, if it comes to it, support and protect a sector to ensure it survives through a Brexit transition period.

We are, of course, all working to ensure that no-deal Brexit does not happen. We have heard various rumours at different stages coming out of the UK. At one point, I was being informed that the UK Government was going to look at having no tariffs at all. Then we saw Michael Gove making announcements that he intends applying WTO tariffs on agrifood products. On top of that, we are being told that within certain sectors like beef, they may look at tariff-free quotas for certain volumes of beef. If they were to do that under WTO rules, they would not be able to apply a different tariff system or quota system to Ireland or to the EU, as they would to other parts of the world. The only thing that would then differentiate Irish beef from beef from other parts of the world would be quality restrictions, which of course are a factor. In of themselves, however, this will not be reassuring to Irish farmers, as we indeed see in the editorial of the Irish Farmers' Journal today.

The one thing I want to say on behalf of the Government, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Creed, is that we have been aware for many months of the vulnerability of agriculture. That is why in the last budget, the beef sector was targeted in a positive way for more supports. If it comes to it, the Government will not be found wanting to support and work with this sector through a very difficult period, should a no-deal Brexit materialise. That will involve a significant amount of money and a relaxation of the state aid rules that would allow us to be able to support the vulnerable sectors through the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

The concept of the sector being under potential stress and pressure is ridiculous. They are under stress and pressure as it is. This statement from Mr. Gove this morning is adding to this stress and that pressure. What has the Government done in the last number of years to get access to other markets to reduce our dependence on the UK market? I put a question to the Minister, Deputy Creed, on lairage in Cherbourg and I got an answer back from him on Tuesday evening more or less shrugging his shoulders and stating that while there is an issue, it can be resolved privately.

There needs to be a lot more proactivity and involvement on the part of the Government in dealing with blockages in the system. There needs to be a lot more proactivity on the Government's part in standing up to factories that are not paying decent prices. We have the lowest cattle prices in the EU, far lower than in the UK, and meanwhile the Government is just shrugging its shoulders and hoping it will be all right on the night.

President Juncker has said this morning that he is not very optimistic about a deal at the moment. I am sure the Tánaiste has seen those remarks. The Government needs to give certainty and clarity to farming families and not speak about stress and pressure as something that might happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit. It is happening and is real. If he wants to understand frustration I advise him to look at the minutes of the Oireachtas joint committee meeting on agriculture last Tuesday. He should read the presentation that was given by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on beef and examine the reaction of members, including those from his own party, to the poorness of that presentation and the complete lack of understanding of the pressure the sector is under and, frankly, the lack of any plan to deal with it.

I can assure the Deputy that the Government understands only too well the pressures that the sector is under. It has been a difficult year for beef on many levels.

Regardless of the question marks and frustrations that some people may have concerning factories, their interactions with farmers and so on - that is an ongoing and testing relationship, as it should be - something much more fundamental needs to be dealt with in the context of Brexit, and that is the issue on which we are focusing. This is a Government that has always prioritised agriculture and farming and always will while my party is a part of it. Given that we realised and focused on the vulnerabilities of the agriculture and farming sector at an early stage in the Brexit discussions, we will be prepared if necessary in the context of there being no deal.

The Deputy asked for certainty and clarity, but one cannot provide absolute certainty if the other partner in the decision making - the UK - cannot provide it either. We have always approached Brexit by necessity, having to adapt to decisions that are being made in Westminster. That is what we will continue to have to do, but we have a close and ongoing co-operation, discussion and partnership-----

Time is up, Tánaiste, please.

-----with other EU member states and the Commission, which recognise the unique vulnerability of Ireland, particularly in the beef space but in agrifood generally. We will respond accordingly.

Child and adolescent mental health services, CAMHS, across the State are in disarray. We can all agree on that. Every Deputy knows patients and families struggling to access appropriate care and help for themselves and their loved ones and children. We are all aware of the inadequate staffing levels across CAMHS that make it impossible for the services to meet demand.

Approximately 2,560 children and young adults are on the CAMHS waiting list. Those 2,560 are being failed. Almost 300 of them have been waiting for more than a year to be seen. These figures are shocking and unacceptable, and this situation needs to be addressed. Early intervention is crucial, but early interventions in mental health cases are not possible when there are extensive waiting lists and a sheer lack of capacity within the system. CAMHS is not meeting the needs of a large cohort of our children and young adults. The situation has been this way for far too long.

Children and young adults who are desperately in need of care and help and who are reaching out for same are not getting the appropriate support in a timely manner. This is primarily due to the failure to recruit the staff needed to operate CAMHS teams. Some services are operating on barely half the number of staff identified in A Vision for Change. When that policy was launched, it was supposed to be a ten-year plan. It is 12 years since it was launched, though, and it has ceased to have any real meaning because it has been left unimplemented for so long.

In my area of CHO 1, which includes Cavan, Monaghan and the north west, there are ten vacant CAMHS posts and 240 children who are waiting to be seen. This is not acceptable. The Tánaiste knows that, given that the situation in his area is even worse. In CHO 4, which covers Cork and Kerry, 650 young people are on the waiting list, and more than 100 of them have been waiting for longer than a year to be seen and supported in respect of their mental health. It is little wonder that this is the case in Cork and Kerry, given that CHO 4's staffing is at roughly 56% of the recommended level. Approximately 74 CAMHS positions are vacant in Cork and Kerry. This is shocking and confirms the serious lack of capacity in the system.

In the interests of our children, we cannot allow this situation to persist. Where children or young persons need care and help, they cannot be forced to stay on an extended waiting list that puts them and their mental health at serious risk.

Time is up, Deputy, please.

I will finish on this. It is not the first time that I have raised this matter. I raised it during Leaders' Questions with the Taoiseach in November. He stated that he would seek a report on a comparison between resources, staffing and outcomes in CAMHS. He was going to take a personal interest in this. Has that report been compiled? What does it contain? When will it be published? We need to see real action and for this issue to be tackled head on so that CAMHS are properly resourced and meet the needs of children who need serious help.

First of all, this is an area that needs more resources and better results. I do not believe that anyone in this House, and certainly not on this side, would contest that. However, it is an area into which we are putting many more resources. In the budget, an extra €55 million was assigned to mental health services, bringing the overall budget for 2019 to nearly €1 billion. It is not like financial resources are not being increased. That said, it is not just about financial resources.

The HSE is committed to ensuring that all aspects of CAMHS are delivered in a consistent and timely fashion, including improved access to age appropriate units. In 2015, the executive introduced a new standard operating procedure for inpatient and community CAMHS. This has contributed to improving services overall, including a reduction in inappropriate admissions of adolescents to adult units. It is also designed to reduce CAMHS waiting lists, particularly for those waiting longer than a year. Access is based on professional clinical assessment and urgent cases are seen as a priority.

Last year, 114 new assistant psychologists and 20 psychologists were recruited to HSE primary care services to help relieve pressure on the specialist CAMHS. The Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, recently approved ten new advanced nurse practitioner posts to improve CAMHS. On the policy front, work is ongoing to complete and refresh A Vision for Change and to produce a draft report, which will be completed shortly. I do not have a draft timeframe, but I will try to get the timetable for the Deputy, as this is not the first time he has raised the issue.

The key objective - it is the only objective, really - is to enhance services overall. There is a recognition that we have had recruitment difficulties in this area. We have provided more funding to address that and recruitment is happening. It needs to continue to happen so that we provide consistent timelines across the country and there are no black spots where young children wait for far too long to get the support and care they need. It is an ongoing process to improve those services by increasing funding and recruitment. Both are happening.

The reality is we are failing these children. I am sure the Tánaiste, like anyone else, knows their parents, perhaps people who are close to him, and the torture that they go through worrying about their children, who have already been assessed as needing mental health supports, about the risk posed to their children's mental health increasing and about there being a bad end to all of it. This is the torture that they tell us about constantly and that they are experiencing.

The problem is that the situation is getting worse. Three hundred people have been waiting longer than a year for their initial assessments and 2,560 are on waiting lists. Of the 72 CAMHS beds, 33 are not operational because of staffing issues. A Vision for Change told us that we should have 100 beds. This is complete and utter chaos.

The Taoiseach told me in November that he would take a personal interest in this matter and would look for a report. Has the report been compiled, will it be published and what will it contain?

I thank the Deputy, but time is up, please.

We hear from the Minister of State at the Department of Health that it is not an issue of resources and that he had called all the CHOs and chief executives together. What is coming out of all that? In the middle of it all, more and more children's mental health and, indeed, lives are being put at risk because of inaction.

Deputy, please. The time is up.

The report is being done and is being finalised. I am told that it will be ready shortly. I will revert to the Deputy with an exact date if I can get one, as it is not an unreasonable request.

Members on this side of the House get the same representations that the Deputies opposite get. In fact, we probably get more because we are in government and there is a responsibility that comes with that.

Believe me, we know the stories and frustrations of parents who are trying to get supports and access to professional services for their children.

There is no lack of motivation on this side of the House to improve services. My understanding is recruitment is the biggest challenge in getting the professionals we need, but the recruitment process is well under way. I have given the Deputy some of the figures for improvements, but we have a long way to go yet. That is the why the report, to which he referred, which will be finalised soon will help us to move in the direction we need to take to make sure we accelerate progress in this area.

After eight years in government that is the result.

The Tánaiste and I can both agree that the situation in Venezuela is very difficult. The economy is in crisis and the people are divided. While the Taoiseach believes the Donald Trump narrative that it is due to a failure of socialism, personally I am more inclined to believe the UN special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas who made an extended visit to Venezuela late last year and is, in fact, an international law expert.

He was not the only one to visit.

Mr. de Zayas blames illegal US sanctions which he says have caused many deaths and aggravated, directly and indirectly, the shortage of medicines, including insulin, which are crimes against humanity which should be referred to the International Criminal Court. They are strong words from a renowned expert. Even if we do not agree on the causes of the problems, I am sure the Tánaiste agrees that Venezuela is not the only divided country with economic problems, but it is the only one in which there is an unelected, self-proclaimed President who has been recognised as a head of state without any basis in law, including by Ireland. It is the only one which the US military is circling. We believe it is landing in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Colombia under the guise of delivering humanitarian aid. It is eerily like the weapons of mass destruction lie that was used to sell the Iraq war and it is happening on a continent where the provision of humanitarian aid has been used as cover for death squads by the same Elliot Abrams who is now at the head of the US operation in Venezuela. This is incredibly serious. One does not need to be a genius to work out that the humanitarian aid narrative is just a Trojan horse. Even the official organisations, the International Red Cross and the United Nations, want to have nothing to do with it, as it is not aid but provocation. It is being used as cover for military intervention and regime change.

The question for us is: are we going to go along with the herd, say nothing, wring our hands and say afterwards, "If only we had known," or are we going to speak out now and add our voice to those opposing military aggression and intervention and in favour of respecting the sovereignty of Venezuela and assisting its people in resolving their differences through dialogue and respect for internal law? Surely that is what a neutral country should be doing. Anything less is a facilitation of the latest resources war. We know that Venezuela has the largest oil resources in the world. We know that because President Trump and John Bolton have told us that they are in discussions with American oil companies to take the oil from the Venezuelan people. We know that they have wanted to do this for a long time. We also know that they tried to overthrow Hugo Chávez and about the sanctions that followed, but this is a turning point. We know what will happen next. Look at what happened in Libya, Iraq and Syria and President Trump says Nicaragua and Cuba are next. Are we going to stay silent or are we going to speak out against US military aggression and intervention and in defence of international law?

This is very serious. We have spoken out and will continue to speak out against military intervention. As the Deputy will be aware, the most recent EU 28 statement on Venezuela was delivered by the High Representative, Federica Mogherini, on 26 January. It reiterated that "a peaceful and inclusive democratic solution is the only sustainable way out" of the crisis in Venezula which, by the way, is the worst political, social, economic and humanitarian crisis in its history. Some 3 million refugees have left the country in the past three years and moved to neighbouring states. It was clear that if no announcement on the holding of fresh elections was made by President Maduro in the days after that EU statement, the European Union would take further actions, including on the issue of recognition of the country's interim leadership. I have been strongly in favour of co-ordinated EU action on Venezuela and fully subscribe to the European Union's common position. Far too often, the European Union speaks with multiple voices and, therefore, has no impact or effect. Instead it allows other countries to have that impact and effect.

On 3 February, in the absence of an announcement by President Maduro calling fresh elections in Venezuela, a number of EU member states began to issue statements recognising Juan Guaidó as interim President of Venezuela with responsibility to facilitate the holding of democratic elections and nothing else. Not to take a decision lightly, I took a number of days to consider our position and on 6 February decided that Ireland should join the vast majority of its EU partners, including Spain, Croatia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Finland, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Slovakia and France, all of which recognise the interim arrangements and support the call for free, fair and democratic elections. They include neutral and independent countries, countries with socialist and EPP governments and so on. There is a collective effort within the European Union to try to create pressure. In our view, the only way to resolve the issue is by facilitating the holding of free and fair presidential elections which we have not seen in Venezuela for many years. I join the other EU member states mentioned in acknowledging and supporting Juan Guaidó as interim President of the democratically elected national assembly to enable him to call free and fair democratic elections. We share this position with 24 other EU member states, virtually every state in South America and many others in different parts of the world. I cannot be neutral on the dramatic humanitarian crisis unfolding in Venezuela. If any Member of the House have evidence to the contrary, I encourage him or her to share it. I reiterate that Ireland does not and will not support military intervention in this case and we have been vocal in expressing our concerns in that regard.

The Carter Center and others have recognised that the elections held in Venezuela were democratic, but there is a certain irony in people being concerned about the elections held in Venezuela when they have no problems with dictators in countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. This is not about democracy and the Tánaiste did not in any way address the points I made about the situation having moved on. Since the backing of Juan Guaidó, the situation has changed on the ground. Troops are amassing on the borders of Venezuela under the guise of the provision of humanitarian aid. This is a country that needs such aid. I have a picture of a 12 year old Yemeni girl who is starving. She weighs 22 lbs. There is a need for a humanitarian aid intervention in Yemen, but there cannot be because the Americans are blocking the Saudis. I am not arguing for military intervention in Saudi Arabia. What I am arguing for is respect for international law. within a very short space of time we will be in a situation where the fate of people not only in Venezuela but also in Nicaragua, Cuba and throughout Latin America will be seriously undermined in what is a resources war, about which I have not heard the Tánaiste say anything. The situation has moved on and it is becoming incredibly dangerous.

It is becoming incredibly dangerous, but it is important that Members know that Ireland is not alone in the position it is taking to try to avoid conflict. Countries in South America, including Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Peru and Ecuador, support the position we have taken.

(Interruptions).

Neighbouring countries are trying to deal with the humanitarian aid consequences of what has been happening in Venezuela. Aid is badly needed by ordinary people, but it is not being allowed to enter the country. Therefore, tension is building, which is a real concern.

The EU's position is very clear: we do not support the amassing of troops in a threatening way anywhere near Venezuela. We support facilitating the access for aid to support a population that badly needs medicines and other basic provisions, which they cannot get from their own Government. That is what we are trying to do.

Because of US sanctions.

Deputy Clare Daly knows my position with regard to Yemen. I have spoken about it with her and with many others on many occasions. We continuously advocate for the facilitation of access of humanitarian assistance on the ground in Yemen.

Today I raise an issue that has previously been raised, which shows the importance of the issue, namely, the crisis in Irish agriculture with beef sector farmers and what they have gone through and continue to go through basically to try to provide an income on their family farms.

All farming sectors will face major difficulties post Brexit but Brexit has come already to the many beef farmers throughout the State. The very mention of Brexit two years ago seems to have given factories across the country the right to cut the prices on cattle. Prices have fallen by 20 cent to 25 cent per kilogram or in the region of €100 per head. This leaves many beef farmers unable to cover their costs and causes them to sell their cattle at a serious loss, which leads to huge stress in these family farms.

Factory prices currently do not meet the costs of producing the cattle. Some beef producers are also fattening some of their own cattle in their own feed lots. It is estimated that up to 20% of finished cattle are coming from factory controlled units. This is putting farmers in west Cork and throughout the State at a serious disadvantage. Some factories were found to be underweighing the cattle, thus underpaying our farmers for their meat. Little or nothing is done for the farmer in this regard.

For a farmer to break even, he or she needs to be getting €4.60 per kilogram but at the moment, the farmer is getting €3.40 per kilogram. Who is creaming off the farmers' back? The Tánaiste and I know who it is but nothing is done to stop this carry-on. Factories are arrogant in this country and have been left arrogant by the Government as we stand idly by and see many farmers who have farmed for generations go out of business. All we have to do is look across to the UK where farmers are getting €150 per head more for their cattle than Irish farmers get. How can this happen there and not here? Our farmers are putting out the best quality cattle and getting a shockingly poor return. Here lies the crisis for our farmers to simply survive.

The last budget was a great opportunity for Ireland to stand up for these farmers by giving them a €200 suckler cow grant. The Government, however, failed these farmers by only giving them €40. Many believe it would not be worth the trouble financially of weighing the cow and calf to just get €40 in return. The Government has had ample opportunity in the past three years to turn the fortunes of the beef farmer around but on the ground nothing has happened. This morning we see a new crisis looming for farmers as reported in leading articles in national newspapers. It looks like our friends in Britain are upping the ante in the battle over the Brexit backstop. Their plan aims to allow beef-producing countries such as Brazil to dodge the brunt of new import taxes or tariffs after Brexit. This will mean huge quantities of Brazilian beef being pushed into the UK market and quality Irish beef being priced out.

Agriculture and fisheries are two of the major industries in Ireland but at present, one senior Minister is responsible for both industries. This may have worked in the past but now with a very serious Brexit looming, the situation has changed completely. I see the crisis we are in and the bigger one facing us. I have called for a senior Minister to be responsible for each of the two industries and I call for that again today. Will the Tánaiste and the Government see what Ireland sees and appoint a stand-alone Minister with responsibility for agriculture and food to fight to save the livelihood of thousands of farmers?

I can assure the Deputy that I understand only too well the pressures of the beef sector. I chaired a beef forum for a number of years and I know the personalities in the sector well on the factory side and on the farm side. We have supported and will continue to support the beef sector through the rural development programme, where we have invested €300 million in the current development programme to support the suckler sector. Another €20 million was announced in the last budget and another €25 million was added to the area of natural constraint, ANC, payments, primarily focused on beef suckler farmers. The Government has not and will not be found wanting in support for this sector, especially when there are pressures from outside, such as those decisions we do not control that are linked to Brexit.

On the Deputy's question, I do not believe it would make any sense for us to restructure the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine right now, with regard to the fish sector. There have been conversations and preparations under way for many months around Brexit and that Department has focused on the pressures and vulnerabilities for both fishermen and farmers. The idea that we would go through some kind of restructure now with 36 days to go to a no-deal Brexit would not make any sense. That is about as polite I can be about that.

I have had the discussion with the Taoiseach and with others at different times on whether we should separate the fishing portfolio from agriculture. Having thought about it I do not think we should. It is the food sector and I believe that fishing in particular is enhanced in its representation around the Cabinet table by being linked to the broader food sector, especially when it comes to exports and Brexit, with the potential need for compensation packages and EU intervention in both sectors to ensure they can survive should we have a worst-case scenario of a no-deal Brexit. Incidentally, I do not believe it will happen but if it did, we would need to be ready and we have a Department that is working night and day to put contingency plans in place should it come to that. The idea that we would restructure and change our personalities at this late stage is not a decision we should be taking now.

Approximately 170,000 people are employed directly in the agrifood sector and 250,000 people employed indirectly in the wider rural areas in agrifood production. Does the Tánaiste realise the extent of the crisis these farmers are in? I truly do not think he does.

Tonight hundreds of farmers will attend the beef plan meeting in the Westlodge Hotel in Bantry. The Tánaiste may ask how do I know there will be hundreds. I will tell him why: they have had two meetings already in Kerry and hundreds of people turned up. West Cork will be no different tonight. These farmers are near the edge and are attending in their hundreds hoping this group or someone out there will step in and deal with this crisis. The Tánaiste keeps telling me that we cannot have a stand-alone Minister with 36 days to go to Brexit. This should have been done two years ago.

The Government should have had a vision. It had no vision for farmers or the fishing people of this country - the people on the ground will say this - to tackle the crisis we are in head on. Will the Tánaiste please tell me what I can offer the farmers at tonight's meeting? What can I offer as a hope or a solution to the disaster they are dealing with, which is not being able to get a proper price or market for their cattle or feed their families at home?

All of us in the House have a responsibility to try to give farmers guidance, reassurance and information.

The Government is letting them down.

To state there is no vision for farming in Ireland is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts.

Abandon the fishermen first.

We have a plan called Food Wise 2025, which was preceded by Food Harvest 2020, which itself was preceded by a good Fianna Fáil plan. Farming is one of the few sectors-----

Not a beef plan.

If the Deputy would just listen, he might learn for a change.

Farming is one of the few sectors in Ireland where consecutive Governments have planned five years ahead and this has been hugely effective in building and supporting a strong industry.

It is a crisis now.

It did not happen by accident that in the middle of a recession in Ireland, the agrifood industry and farming actually prospered. It did not happen by accident that Ireland-----

You want to get rid of them.

-----has changed the approach of the European Commission to the CAP to reflect the realities of farming in Ireland. Moreover, if Irish agriculture and farming face an emergency and crisis linked to decisions made in Westminster, it will not happen by accident that we will be able to support that industry and those family farms through that crisis period, which the Government will do.

Will the Tánaiste come with me to Bantry tonight to see the crisis on the ground?

The Deputy should not be raising fears.

Please, Deputies.

The Deputy is playing politics with it. This is serious.

No. I am being honest.