As days go these times this was as routine a Monday possible. I spent the day in the main attending to Constituency matters. Later in the evening I attended the Macroom Fine Gael branch AGM before traveling to Dublin late.
At 8.30am I attended the launch of Ireland’s newest whiskey brand “Roe & Co”. Our drinks industry is one of the real growth drivers in our export figures in recent years and I’m confident that this innovation by Diageo will prove another winner on the world stage. I return to Government buildings for Cabinet followed by a brief meeting with Áine and Jonathan. My next engagement takes me to IBEC HQ for the launch of the Beef Health Check initiative in association with Animal Health Ireland. In the afternoon I meet with officials from the Departments Sea Fisheries section to prepare for Wednesdays events.
I spring into February with an early morning announcement of the 2017 allocation to our Fisheries Local Actions Groups, in Dun Laoghaire. The FLAGs initiative is co funded through the Europe Maritime Fisheries fund and provides funding to locally based projects in coastal areas. From Dun Laoghaire I travel directly to the Dáil to attend Leaders questions. After lunch its back to matters maritime as I host a Brexit sectoral dialogue for the seafood sector. The potential challenges for this particular sector were laid bare over the course of an engaging afternoon of discussions. I attend the weekly Fine Gael Parliamentary Party and a number of votes in the Dáil before rounding off the day in preparation for Oral questions on Thursday.
After my usual breakfast ritual I sit down with RTE’s Emma McNamara for a good conversation on the exposure of our Agri food sector to
Brexit. Afterwards I travel to Clondalkin to officially open the impressive Ballyowen Equine centre. I’m joined at the event by the Tanaiste, Oireachtas colleagues and local councillors but we are left in little doubt that Deputy Gino Kenny is the hero of the hour as a key driving force behind this Department of Agriculture funded facility. I return to my office just in time to greet the new Sudanese ambassador. Thursdays voting time leads directly on to Oral questions where I face ninety minutes of scrutiny on a range of issues including GLAS payments, the ANC review, the future of the beef sector and the new €150 million Agri Loan Fund. After questions a I make a hasty departure from Dublin in order to attend the Fine Gael Fermoy district AGM as guest speaker. I return to Macroom after midnight which is an improvement on the previous weeks 3am arrival.
It’s celebrate Cork day! First on the agenda is a meeting with the new President of UCC Professor Pat O’Shea and a briefing from the academic management and staff of the UCC school of Food Science and Engineering. From UCC it’s onward to the Tyndall institute for a briefing on some of their projects in the area of Agri technology. I depart the City somewhat in awe of the talent, innovation and commitment of those involved in our Agri-food sector whom I’ve just encountered. This feeling is compounded after I spend the afternoon in a significant food processing plant in the outskirts of the City. To confirm my sense of admiration in our sector I attend the annual Cork Chamber Gala dinner to witness Dairygold claim the 2017 Cork Company of the year award.
No lie in for the management and board of Carbery this Saturday as they make time to meet me at 9.30am to discuss a range of matters. Deputy Jim Daly is my host in Bandon where I take a gauntlet of meetings from tillage farmers to the Irish Show Association to IFA members from the Islands of Cape Clear, Sherkin and Bere. After emerging from the scrum I have the honour of officially opening the latest venture of the renowned Barrett family Coppeen at their new Barrett Agri facility. As for the rugby….the less said and all that.