WATCH: TD defends comments on family farms being wiped out

Michael Fitzmaurice was taking no prisoners on Tonight VMTV this week as he rejected demands that he apologise for comparing culling the national herd by 30% – and the subsequent effect on driving small farms out of business – to ethnic cleansing.

The Independent TD for Roscommon/Leitrim hit back at fellow panellist, environmentalist John Gibbons, who said that he should apologise for the remarks.

“First of all, John, I would never apologise to you or your like, what I said I will stand over it,” Fitzmaurice said, pointing out that in addition to culling plans to force farmers to rewetting agricultural land could mean small family farms were totally “taken out of commission”.

“It’s not inflammatory, it’s the facts. We’re getting rid of family farms,” he said. “Small family farms – ironically enough most of them are in organic production at the moment .. we’ll be getting rid of them if this is going ahead.”

He rejected the accusation from the Tonight VMTV presenter, Ciara Doherty, that he was using inflammatory language

His stance was welcomed by many commentators on social media, especially those anxious at the effect of Green policies on rural Ireland.

Not everyone agreed however.

Earlier this week, Rural Independent TDs condemned the EPA report seeking culling as a “secret report”, and a “vicious strike against the heart of rural Ireland”.

Deputy Mattie McGrath, the leader of the Rural Independent Group of TDs, said:

“This report, compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency, a government agency, lays bare the devastating impact of the government’s radical green policies on Irish farming. The proposals, which aim to reduce the national herd by 30 percent, will destroy the livelihoods of Irish beef, dairy, and sheep farmers and compromise the very food production that our nation depends on.”

“If these proposals are implemented, rural Ireland will face ‘mass destruction.’ The report calls for a reduction in livestock numbers and a quadrupling of forestry cover, together with re-wetting 90 percent of reclaimed land, will have a devastating impact on our communities, homes, and traditions. The authors of the report seem to have no regard for the people who call rural Ireland home, as their proposals would turn it into a national park.”

“It is evident that the government has lost touch with rural Ireland, as evidenced by the creation of this report, which was funded by taxpayers’ money, and their plans to hammer farmers with emissions reduction targets of 25 percent. The world needs more food, not less, and it is unjust to restrict food production and leave land unused.”

“We demand an unequivocal statement from the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture, assuring us that no reductions in cattle, pigs, goats, and sheep will be considered or implemented, and that the report will be immediately disregarded and incinerated.”

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