Despite all the furore regarding the future of the Government, it was very much business as usual for me this week. Began Monday morning with a visit to a sports club in my Constituency to view their future development plans. Afterwards It was onwards to a local primary school to for a meeting with management of the school and the local development association. The afternoon is spent in the Macroom office ahead of a Public Meeting hosted by Fine Gael on our response to Brexit attended by the Taoiseach and Party colleagues. After the meeting which was well attended and wide ranging I headed for Dublin.
As has been well publicised at this point, Tuesday morning began with an extended pre- cabinet meeting of Fine Gael Ministers followed by Cabinet itself. Arrangements for a tribunal of inquiry to investigate matters pertaining to Sergeant Maurice McCabe naturally dominated the public agenda. However, as Minister for Agriculture Food & Marine, I have a responsibility to adhere to my own duties, therefore it was straight into a meeting with the ICMSA post Cabinet. In the early afternoon I was joined by the Taoiseach for a meeting with the leaders of the Fishing industry to discuss their concerns in the context of Brexit. I sit in the Dáil chamber for a period as the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and Minister Zappone take questions on Túsla. I return to the Department to participate in a detailed interview with Caitriona Murphy of the Irish Farmers Journal on GLAS payments. My final event of a busy Tuesday is a pleasant one as I welcome climate change experts from around the World to Bord Bia’s Thinking House.
An early start on Wednesday with two meetings in conjunction with Minister Coveney one with the IFA and another with the ICMSA regarding the forthcoming review of our obligations under the EU nitrates directive. At noon I attended Leaders questions in the Dáil chamber followed by a meeting with the team from Agriaware regarding some of their ambitious plans. I briefly get the opportunity to meet with students from Millstreet Community School before addressing the Seanad on Climate Change. It’s a case of Chamber hopping as I proceed down stairs to the Dáil to contribute to the Motion of Confidence in the Government which thankfully was passed.
A 7.30am Cabinet meeting to finalise the terms of reference for the forthcoming enquiry into the treatment of Garda whistleblowers began a busy Thursday. Attended voting in the Dáil chamber in the early afternoon followed by a meeting of Stakeholders involving the tillage sector which I chaired. I briefly had to leave the meeting to vote in the Dáil on the terms of reference as agreed earlier by Cabinet. Following the conclusion of the tillage forum I traveled to Portlaoise to address the AGM of the ICSA who were very gracious despite my late arrival.
Took advantage of the fine Spring morning to walk to Dublin Castle to attend the plenary session of the All Island Civic dialogue on Brexit. In the afternoon I chaired the module on the Economy, moderated by RTE’s Áine Lawlor. The Civic dialogue process has been most worthwhile in terms of allowing all sectors of society contribute to the debate and help shape the Government’s response to Brexit.
Without question the most pleasant event I attended in a busy week took place in the Field of Dreams in Curraheen, where the sod was turned on this magnificent project being developed by Down Syndrome Cork. Saturday evening I traveled west to Baile Mhuirne for the official launch of the 2017 Moonraker rally which will take place in the area in April. Closed off the week in Dromey’s Dromcarra to toast the 80th Birthday of my great friend and loyalist Nicholas Dromey!