Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe has said that he “respects” the decision of the National Ploughing Championship to decline cash payments for their event this year, saying that the forms of payment accepted was a matter for organisers.
The remarks were made during a press event with reporters on Wednesday at Cabra Library in Dublin, as the Minister unveiled the government’s newly-released “Digital Inclusion Roadmap.”
According to Donohoe’s department, this strategy seeks to “assist older people and those with learning difficulties to more easily access the digital world.”
“We recognize that as the world becomes more digital, and as more services require your ability to use digital technologies, it’s so important to ensure that no one is left behind,” the Minister told reporters.
Asked if he was disappointed with the National Ploughing Championship’s controversial decision to ban cash payments for their event this year, however, the Minister said this was a matter for event organisers to decide.
Irish Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe says he "respects" the decision of groups like the National Ploughing Championship to not accept cash payments at events. #gript pic.twitter.com/24vDRITQaP
— gript (@griptmedia) August 10, 2023
“The choice of payment for people who are entering the Ploughing Championship is really a matter for the organisers of the National Ploughing Championship,” he said.
“I’m sure they made a decision in relation to payment really carefully, so I respect any decision they have made on the matter.
“I will say that I have found that the organisers of the Ploughing Championship are extremely sensitive to the needs of those who attend, and I’m sure they made that decision very, very carefully. But, ultimately, it’s a matter for them.”
Organisers of the annual event have defended the move as a “health and safety measure,” arguing that last year their numbers almost reached capacity due to hundreds of people unexpectedly turning up on the day to pay with cash in person. The group has claimed that ensuring they have accurate attendance figures is important for the event’s security.
They have also said that attendees can still purchase tickets via postal order or cheque, and a ticket will be sent to them.
In addition, people will be allowed to buy a ticket on the day provided there is attendance.
This week, however, Rural Independent Group TD Michael Collins hit out at the policy, saying that he wanted to “emphasise the importance of preserving cash as a symbol of freedom and privacy.”
“Cash is legal tender in Ireland, and compelling people to pre-purchase tickets online is an affront to the people of Ireland and rural communities,” he said, adding that the system could lead to “potential exclusionary practices.”
“Farmers may need to make attendance decisions on the morning of the event, based on factors like weather conditions,” the TD continued.
“Many rural farmers and residents lack access to digital payment means and face challenges due to subpar broadband. Cash plays a crucial role in ensuring inclusivity and preventing anyone from being left behind or excluded from events like this.”
He further cautioned against “intrusive surveillance of financial transactions,” saying: “A cashless society could pave the way for an accelerated drive by banks, multinational corporations, and governments to engage in pervasive surveillance of ordinary people.”
Last July there was significant backlash to a proposal by AIB to make 70 of its banks cashless, ultimately leading to the plan being scrapped due to “public unease.”
AIB reverses plan to make 70 banks cashless following ‘public unease’ https://t.co/AFfz36pD1w
— The Irish Times (@IrishTimes) July 22, 2022