A day of “looking after the ranch” operating between the Macroom and Ballincollig Constituency offices. Monday night’s schedule involved a media interview and the Ballincollig Fine Gael branch AGM before traveling to Dublin.
Following breakfast and a glance at the papers it’s clear that matters arising from RTE’s Prime Time Investigates will be very topical at this mornings Cabinet meeting. It’s early afternoon before the meeting finishes and I have an opportunity for a catch-up with my advisors before attending a meeting of the Export Trade Council. Tuesday evening is spent in briefings with officials and attending votes in the Dáil chamber.
The team and I make the short walk across the road to the Department of Jobs Enterprise & Innovation for an important meeting with Minister of State Pat Breen and the Health & Safety Authority on Farm Safety. Hopefully I’ll have much more to report on this front in the coming weeks. I return to the Department reception for a photo call for the Irish Independent Zurich Farmer of the Year launch. I sit in briefly for Leaders questions in the Dáil before traveling to the City North a hotel for our second All Island Civic dialogue on Brexit, this time discussing Horticulture forestry cereal animal feed and the prepared consumer food sector. The experience of these dialogues has been positive in the main with stakeholders offered the platform to express their concerns surrounding Brexit and therefore contributing to our Government preparations.
With Brexit shaping our every action in the Department, scoping Trade opportunities is a priority. This morning I was pleased to welcome ambassadors from the Association of South East Asian Nations to discuss strengthening and building trade links. After a positive meeting with the Ambassadors I attend in the Seanad chamber to respond to a commencement motion regarding GLAS payments. After Christmas lunch with the team in my office (better late…) I meet with the IT division in the Department to discuss ongoing payments etc. Following voting time in the Dáil I departed the Capital to make the long journey south go Gaeltacht Mhuscraì, agus criunniu chinn bliana FG Baile Mhuirne – Cuil Aodha.
Scoil Bhride Ballydehob is my first stop of an inspiring, poignant yet upbeat morning of events in the Mizen area. Safety awareness on the farm and at sea is the theme of a series of events organised by the community. From Mizen Rovers GAA, to the corporate sponsors, the Emergency services to the schools the power of this collective effort to deliver such an important message certainly left an impression on me. Great credit is due to the organisers particularly Jonathan and Nellie! I spend the afternoon in the Constituency office and round off the week with some down time shouting on a rampant Munster in a freezing Musgrave Park.