Leo Varadkar accused of resorting to ‘childish politics’ in bid to endear Fine Gael to farmers

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Fine Gael has been accused of “childish politics” by Fianna Fáil figures pursuing an involution by the Taoiseach implicit the ending of a derogation connected EU nitrates regulations for Irish farmers.

Following a gathering with the Irish Farmers Association past week connected the fringes of his party’s think-in, Leo Varadkar said helium would invitation EU situation commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius to Ireland.

Mr Varadkar’s involution came contempt Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue’s insistence that the commissioner’s determination to extremity an exemption for Irish farmers was not going to beryllium reversed.

It has led to a backlash wrong Fianna Fáil, with Senator Erin McGreehan saying it was “childish politics” and said the Taoiseach was “saying what [farmers] wanted to hear” aft they protested astatine the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil think-ins.

The committee has lowered the maximum nitrate allowance for Ireland from 250kg per hectare to 220kg per hectare. Some 3,000 Irish dairy farmers volition beryllium affected by the deduction, which volition unit them to trim their herds oregon find further land.

Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill, who chairs the Oireachtas agriculture committee, said the commissioner had been “absolutely emphatic” that the determination would not beryllium reversed and that it was “very important that we’re consecutive with farmers and springiness them the factual position”.

Speaking connected RTÉ's This Week programme connected Sunday, Fine Gael Minister of State astatine the Department of Agriculture Martin Heydon insisted that Mr Varadkar had not gone implicit his Cabinet colleague’s head, adding that Mr McConalogue was “happy enough” for the missive inviting Mr Sinkevicius to beryllium sent. He said determination were plentifulness of bully reasons for the commissioner to conscionable farmers and perceive astir the Irish farming sector.

However, Fianna Fáil figures were privately scathing of the Taoiseach’s intervention. One elder Fianna Fáil root said the involution was a “declaration of predetermination time” and argued that it was a determination to enactment up enactment for Fine Gael among farmers astatine a clip erstwhile Irish Farming Association elections are besides nether way. “[Fine Gael] person mislaid connected farming,” the root said, arguing the enactment had been “poor connected farming worldly for years”.

“It looks similar 1 of Leo’s aged tricks,” the root said. “What’s it going to achieve? Nothing.”

Another Fianna Fáil TD said their Coalition partners “know good it’s not going to beryllium revised and they haven’t the balls to accidental it to the IFA”.

Asked astir the directive connected Sunday, Green Party Minister of State Ossian Smyth said h2o prime had to beryllium borne successful mind. “We request caller drinking h2o and we request rivers that tin enactment biodiversity and food and immoderate we tin bash to assistance farmers determination distant from costly fertilisers is simply a bully thing.

“I don’t expect that determination volition beryllium [changes to the derogation],” helium said. “But I deliberation that we tin ever look astatine the implementation and I deliberation the speech has to continue.”

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