As is routine for Council of Ministers meetings in Brussels, I begin the day with a breakfast meeting with fellow Agriculture Ministers from the E.P.P. Group. This is always a useful opportunity to discuss matters in a more informal setting with some of The E.U’s most influential Agriculture Ministers and of course Commissioner Hogan who also attends. After breakfast I make the short walk to the Council building for the AgriFish Council meeting where international trade, the current market situation and the future of the sheep sector are all items up for discussion. After a long day of discussion it’s a late evening flight back to Dublin for an extremely busy week ahead.
An early start to Tuesday for an appearance on TV3s Ireland AM programme for a chat about the Governments comprehensive Rural Action Plan. From Ballymount its back into the City for Cabinet in Government buildings. Early afternoon I take a call from LIT campus radio who are keen to discuss the Rural Action Plan. I spend the evening in meetings with officials, Premier horse care Ireland and my advisors.
After breakfast I sit down with senior officials with responsibility for the GLAS scheme and the Departments IT functions. Every resource available so being thrown at ensuing the earliest payment of the 9,000 or so outstanding applicants. Next up is a photo call for an important launch being made early next week. I attend Leaders questions in the Dáil in the early afternoon. Before settling in to an evening of pre-briefing for a packed Thursday I meet with the Secretary General to discuss ongoing Departmental issues.
If I were to be paid per mention of the term Brexit today, it’s fair to say my Salary would come under some serious scrutiny. First up are members of the Environment, Rural Development and Agriculture Committee of the Welsh assembly who wish to discuss our Agri environment schemes and unsurprisingly Brexit. No sooner have my Welsh colleagues left the room but Commissioner Phil Hogan and his Cabinet arrive to discuss a number of agricultural items and unsurprisingly Brexit. My schedule of meetings is broken up by voting time in the Dáil but when I resume I meet with a significant operator in the Northern Ireland dairy industry who wish to discuss- unsurprisingly – Brexit. I attend two Cabinet subcommittees in the evening the first on Economy Trade & and Jobs and the second on; unsurprisingly; Brexit. I leave Dublin in great haste to travel to Kiltegan Co Wicklow for a well attended public meeting hosted by Minister of State Andrew Doyle. No surprises as to what the item up for discussion is…….I depart Wicklow late and return to Macroom at 2.45am for the first time in 11 days.
I have little opportunity to acquaint myself with the family as it’s off to Fermoy to Teagasc Moorepark for the launch of Teagasc’s Grass 10 initiative. I take the opportunity following the launch to take a tour of the facility and be briefed on some of the ambitious plans being developed on the campus. I round off the week with a few hours in the Constituency office followed by a pleasant evening in Clonakilty to pay tribute to Noel O’Donovan who is moving on from Cork County Council. Noel has been a most admirable member of the Council over the past number of years. I wish him well on his next posting.