I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Finneran. I raise this issue with regard to the nursery growers of Ireland. I visited one of these nurseries — Kelly's nursery in Streamstown — two weeks ago, and I have never seen such utter devastation. The leylandii, which I consider to be the hardiest of plants — weeds, almost — were all dead, as were rows and rows of eucalyptus, lavender, escallonia, laurels and others. I have here an itemised list of the plants that were lost, at a total cost of more than €600,000. This is an award-winning nursery employing 18 people, yet it has been left to its own devices. There is no help.
I was speaking to Mr. Kelly, the owner of the nursery, today and he said that not one person had come to ask him how he would cope. This man works 12 to 14 hours a day. There is no difference between him and a potato grower. Yet potato growers were compensated, and good luck to them. They had a meeting with the Minister early in January and their case was closed on 16 January. However, on this date the true extent of the devastation from the frost damage would not have been experienced by the nursery growers. I understand there are nurseries in similar situations in Tipperary and Kilkenny.
Mr. Kelly told me today that five or six customers call him every day to say that plants they bought from him have died, and he has no other option but to give them refunds or credit notes. He expects the credit notes alone will cost him between €40,000 and €50,000. This man is experiencing a massive loss. It will not knock him back; he will survive because he is an optimist and a brave man. He wants nothing for nothing.
I understand the Minister met with some of the nursery growers last week. I find it quite offensive that they were offered a campaign to advertise through Bord Bia. This is an insult. They need to be compensated. The cost to Mr. Kelly of dumping all the dead plants is €60,000. I saw them in the nursery: yellow, dead plants. He is in a disadvantaged area. I understand the equivalent of 30% of his production is what he should receive as compensation. I do not see how he is different, as I said on the Order of Business, from a potato grower, and more power to them for obtaining their compensation or whatever they got.
I ask the Minister of State to intercede in this matter. I understand the Minister, Deputy Smith, is tied up with all that is going on in his constituency with the Quinn Group and so on. However, this is not just one nursery but a nationwide issue. These businesses are put to the pin of their collars to survive and they need support.