THE MINISTER’S JOURNAL 24/10/16 TO 28/10/16

Monday:

Monday can only be described as novelty at this stage – an entire day in Cork North West!  I spent the early morning in the Macroom office before attending the official opening of the new extension in Kilmurry NS.  I’m still not accustomed to cutting tapes and unveiling plaques with my name on them.  It is a strange privilege to be welcomed as warmly as I am on visits such as this one to Kilmurry NS.  I was greeted by a guard of honour from the Children which was followed by plenty of music and song from all the classes in the school.  There is tremendous credit due to Mrs Creedon, her staff, successive boards of management, parents and of course the pupils for the work that has been carried out at the school.  After a most pleasant morning and some welcome refreshment I was then treated to a private tour of the Kilmurry Independence Museum by Tony Murphy, Jim Murphy and Tim Hartnett.  This facility is a hidden gem.  There is so much to peruse and such a depth of local and national history on display that this museum should be a must see for everybody in the locality and indeed further afield.  At 2pm I travelled south to Enniskeane to meet the management and staff of GP Wood.  The Grainger and O’Callaghan families have been excellent employers in Cork over many decades and are now embarking on an ambitious investment programme which will set them up to be major players in the timber industry for many decades to come.  Monday’s final engagement is a Cork North West Fine Gael constituency meeting, where I make a presentation to outgoing regional organiser Ian Dinan.  Ian has served the Party diligently over the past sixteen years and we wish him the best for the future.  I escape Millstreet just before midnight.

kilmurry

Tuesday:

A 5am alarm call for a 5.30am departure to Dublin to make Cabinet.  After Cabinet there is some preparatory work for Wednesday’s North South Ministerial Council meeting, before launching a website on behalf of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum.  My afternoon is spent in the Seanad discussing Brexit and the implications for the agri-food sector and agriculture.  From there I move to a Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure, Environment and Climate action.  I’m afforded twenty minutes to grab a bite to eat before retreating to the Department for some brief preparation for RTE Prime Time with Jonathan & Áine.  I travel to RTE at 9pm – a quick dab of make-up (to hide the lines) and its lights, camera action at 9.30pm with David McCullagh in the Chair for a debate on…..  yes – Brexit!!  I depart RTE studios at 10.30pm with one outstanding matter to deal with for the day – removing the makeup!!!

Wednesday:

Wednesday is a mammoth day on the mileage front!  First engagement is a meet and greet with the new Macra na Feirme CEO Denis Duggan, accompanied by Derrie Dillon.  Macra is an organisation very close to my heart having enjoyed many years as a member.  Macra get the business and pleasure mix right better than any organisation I’m aware of and is a fantastic outlet for young people from rural backgrounds.  After a run through of outstanding business with the Sec Gen I depart for Armagh for a meeting of the North South Ministerial Council.  In Armagh I meet with the NI Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen, their Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard, while Minister of State Michael Ring joins me on our Governmental team.  Following a wide ranging discussion on a number of topics its back on the road, south bound to Templemore for the removal of former FG Cllr Pauline Coonan RIP, wife of my former colleague Noel Coonan.  From Tipperary it was north-west to Sligo for the night in preparation for my appearance at the “Women & Agriculture Conference” in the morning.

macra

Thursday:

To say I was blessed amongst women at breakfast at the Conference would be a great understatement.  I deliver one of the opening addresses at this superb event which unfortunately I can’t linger and enjoy as I have to rush back to the Dáil in time for voting just after midday.  I make it back to the Dáil from Sligo just in time for the division bells.  Following voting I return to the Department to prepare for my monthly cross questioning on the floor of the Dáil from opposition (and sometimes Govt) Deputies.  After a tough but fair couple of hours in the Chamber, it’s back into the car again for 5pm in the hope of making a meeting in Listowel at 8pm!  It is well after nine when I sheepishly slip into a fairly packed meeting room in the Listowel Arms Hotel for a Kerry Fine Gael constituency meeting.  The Party is dusting itself down particularly in North Kerry following the loss of Party stalwart Jimmy Deenihan at the General Election.  There is however optimism and defiance that this seat can be won back when the time comes!  Following the Fine Gael meeting I meet with the local ICMSA committee before getting back on the road to Cork sometime after 11.

women-agriculture

Friday:

A trip to the Doctor’s on Friday morning – but fortunately not on the grounds of illness.  I meet with local GP’s in the Macroom area to discuss their concerns regarding the provision of health services in the area.  Following the meeting I spend some time in the Constituency office.  I’m looking forward to the respite of a bank holiday weekend.  Next week is a big week with an important Trade Mission to North Africa.  Having travelled from Cork to Dublin to Armagh to Tipperary to Sligo to Dublin to Listowel to Macroom in 72 hours however, that distance doesn’t seem too daunting!

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THE MINISTER’S JOURNAL 16/10/16 – 23/10/16

Sunday Night:

On landing in Paris, I received word that my old friend and loyal supporter Jack Murphy from Inchigeela had passed away.  Jack was one of the proudest Uibh Laoire men, and fiercest Fine Gaeler you were ever likely to meet ar dheis dé go raibh a anam.  On a day of loss it was with a heavy heart I met the rest of the team and made our way to our hotel to prepare for a busy Monday.

Monday:

An 8am pre-brief with our Agriculture Attaché in Paris Karl Walshe was my first engagement on Monday.  We have an incredible network of agriculture attaché’s throughout the world that do tremendous work promoting the Irish agri-food sector worldwide.  At 9am I meet one of France’s best known Agri-journalists who writes for Le Figaro.  He is keen to discuss our plans for growing our agri-food sector and in particular the dairy sector which has been in a state of crisis in France over the past year.  After a comprehensive discussion we depart the City for “SIAL” Paris, the world’s largest business to business food exhibition.  On arrival I take part in a Bord Bia presentation and press briefing for both Irish and international journalists before taking to the floor of the convention centre to meet with the Bord Bia supported exhibitors.  It’s thoroughly enjoyable to help these companies promote their products but moreover to hear their individual stories.  Whilst making our way through the exhibit we meet with Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen, French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll who was accompanied by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.  After meeting with almost thirty exhibitors we return to the City centre for a late dinner with the team.  I must commend Ambassador Byrne Nason for her assistance throughout the day particularly as she was occupied in making arrangements for the return of Anthony Foley to his family and his home.

Tuesday:

Another 7am start to make it to the train station on foot in time for our Eurostar to London.  This was my first time travelling from Paris to London in this manner and I must say it was a most pleasant trip.  We are met in London by Mary McCarthy our Attaché in London.  Our first engagement in London is a store visit to a Sainsbury’s in order to see first-hand the type of Irish product they carry and to fully appreciate the nature of their business model.  Afterwards we have time for a quick lunch before meeting with Mike Coupe (CEO) in Sainsbury’s Headquarters.  The purpose of the meeting is to reiterate our intention to maintain strong trading links between Ireland and the UK and to re-affirm our continued commitment to the production of high quality, safe sustainably produced food.  The exchange is positive and helps us build further insight into the mentality amongst business leaders in the UK at present.  Following the meeting I travel to Heathrow to catch a flight to Cork.  I arrive in Inchigeela at 8pm just in time to pay my respects to Jack Murphy and say my final farewell to the big man.  There are very few downsides to being Minister, but one is that your time is not your own.  I would dearly love to stay to attend Jack’s funeral on Wednesday, but unfortunately a packed diary dictates otherwise.

Wednesday:

A 6am departure from Macroom is required to make a 9.30am Cabinet Sub-committee meeting on Brexit followed by another on European Affairs.  I attend Leader’s Questions at noon and take a question on the slurry spreading deadline!  In the afternoon I meet with Andrew McDowell, Ireland’s newest appointee to the European Investment Bank.  We discuss our new low cost Agri Loan Fund as well as other matters pertaining to the sector.  As Andrew departs I notice some familiar faces on the corridor!  The Coachford farm discussion group are in town and I just about manage to find twenty minutes for a chat with them.  However, I’m assured they are more interested in visiting the Dáil bar than doing too much talking anyway!  Once the lads have been safely signed into the Dáil I take a call from the Ear to the Ground Magazine for a wide ranging interview.  A meeting with a Harbour Development group, the FG parliamentary Party and Sligo Oireachtas members complete the programme for another packed day, but admittedly my thoughts turn to Inchigeela on more than one occasion throughout.

Thursday:

After my usual breakfast routine it’s back to the desk for a run through of issues with the Sec Gen and his officials.  Mid-morning I meet with Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment, Denis Naughten and this team.  This Department shares many areas of common concern with Denis’s department therefore regular interaction is important.  Another radio interview, this time with Clare FM prior to tomorrows visit to there, is followed by a Brexit Stakeholders consultation meeting.  I travel across the City to attend the removal of the late Fergus O’Brien RIP before heading south to attend a meeting of Fine Gael branches in Freemount.  It’s another 11pm plus finish, but it’s good to be back in Macroom – if only for a few hours.

Friday:

Friday starts with an event in the diary that I never look forward to – a trip to the dentist.  But credit to Paula, the experience isn’t too painful.  We depart for Clare and arrive at Liffey Mills at 1pm just in time for the grand opening of their splendid new facility in Ennis.  From Ennis it’s onwards to the Burren to meet with Dr Brendan Dunford, Michael Davern and their team behind the successful Burren project.  This locally led scheme is a fantastic template for promoting agricultural activity in areas of natural conservation.  I’m really blown away by the enthusiasm of all involved as well as the beauty of the landscape in this precious area.  We make the long trek from the Burren to Whitegate in East Clare, but the journey was worthwhile as I’m afforded a really warm welcome at the Burke family home.  There I have a good chat with the local farm discussion group on a range of issues.  A welcome cup of tea sets us up for the trip to back to Ennis to the Old Ground Hotel where I host a Brexit meeting in conjunction with Clare FG, and the IFA.  There is a good turnout for a Friday night and the discussion goes on until well after 11pm.

Saturday:

A leisurely start to Saturday given that I’m not due at the Millstreet Dairy Show until 1pm.  Again I receive a really warm welcome at Green Glens for this event.  I meet some old faces some whom I haven’t met in far too long.  Unfortunately my stay is curtailed as I must travel to Dublin for the Fine Gael Presidential Dinner hosted by the Taoiseach.  However I am on duty for the event – acting as Master of Ceremonies so there is no opportunity to kick back and enjoy the event.  Unfortunately I am unable to attend the 25 year anniversary celebrations of Macroom GAA winning the Mid Cork Junior Championship in the Castle Hotel Macroom.  In ways I think this is Jack Murphy having the last word on our win against Uibh Laoire back in ’91!  I return to Macroom just before 2am to round off the week.

THE MINISTER’S JOURNAL 10/10/16 – 16/10/16 – BUDGET SPECIAL!

Monday:

It’s Budget week, and not having travelled this road before as a Minister, I am admittedly nervous as we depart Macroom early, Dublin bound.  I phone Andrew Doyle (Minister of State) en route for a final run through of the agenda for the Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting in Luxembourg where he is deputising for me.  The day is dominated by phone calls between my office, the Department of Finance, and DPER regarding the slightest of margins.  At this stage every Euro counts.  Áine (policy advisor) is keeping an open line to Finance as I continue to go through each expenditure item, line by line with officials.  The real drama however is happening elsewhere.  The SBCI (Strategic Banking Corporation Ireland) board are meeting to sign off on the Agri-Loan fund we have been working on for a number of months.  This will be the centre-piece of our strategy to assist farmers through income volatility.  There are audible gasps of relief throughout the fifth floor of Ag House when word filters through that there’s a green light for the scheme!  At 5pm it looks as if we have all the detail – now it’s about shaping the message.  Jonathan (Press Advisor) gets to work on draft one of the Department’s Budget day Press release.  It’s simply not possible or indeed worthwhile to include every detail of every measure in our Budget day messaging.  The key is to communicate the details that are going to be of major significance to our stakeholders.  The significant policy initiatives contained in our Budget are directed at farm incomes and Brexit mitigation measures.  This will be our message on Budget day and is taking shape by the time Andrew returns from Luxembourg to contribute his views.  It’s getting late when we decide to park the process until the next morning to allow fresh eyes reflect on where we are at.

Tuesday:

7am and most of the team are already at their desks.  The detail of our budget has remained intact overnight, and our PR has over-gone a few tweaks and is now, bar any shocks in Paschal or Michael’s speeches, ready to go.  The Ag house canteen is popular amongst Oireachtas members.  I have breakfast with Denis Naughten and his team (Ross & Suzie).  As we leave I’m met by Simon Coveney on his way in.  All are satisfied that their respective budget’s are delivering the best possible outcome given the limited resources at hand.  It’s straight to Cabinet before returning to the Department.  Time is limited.  The Budget speech begins at 1pm.  Our Department Press Conference is at 4pm.  I have one last run through the detail with the team before rushing to the Dáil chamber to be in position for Minister Noonan’s speech.  One would think that was that, but as the official budget documents are circulated I can’t help but notice that some of the measures agreed in our Budget do not appear.  I text back to the Department, but what I don’t realise at the time is that they are in continuous contact with Finance & DPER as the Nation listens attentively to Michael.  I’m quickly informed that all is as it should be and the more detailed documents contain all the items that we have been working hard for over the previous number of weeks.  Speeches over and now it’s time to face the press.  Our Press Conference takes place on the fifth floor of Ag house – directly across the hall from my office.  I have a few moments to gather my thoughts and to run through the choreography with the Sec Gen, Ultan (Press Officers), Jonathan & Andrew before making the walk across the hall.  Our Press release is issued (eleventh draft) and the details of Budget 2017 for the Department of Agriculture Food & Marine are revealed to all.  Press interest focuses on our low interest Agri Loan fund of €150 million.  Our Budget is generally well received by the Farm bodies and the Fisheries Producer organisations.

Wednesday:

An early start again Wednesday morning in preparation for a number of local radio interviews which I take from the office.  I chat to Patricia Messenger live on C103 at 11.10am before sitting in on the Taoiseach’s Budget speech at noon.  The afternoon is spent catching up with Department business and preparing my own Budget speech which I deliver sometime after 7pm in the evening which only allows me a fleeting attendance at the weekly Fine Gael Parliamentary Party meeting.

Thursday:

An 8.30am breakfast meeting at Bord Bia Headquarters kicks off Thursday.  The Budget may be over – but in reality it’s just beginning.  I hold three conference calls with three separate Irish banks to discuss our Agri-loan product we are putting forward in conjunction with SBCI.  I’m encouraged by the interest shown in this initiative and I am confident that they will take up the baton in bringing this product to market as soon as possible.  I don’t usually stay in Dublin overnight on a Thursday, but due to a commitment in Athlone on Friday morning, I take the opportunity to catch up on some calls and prepare for the Conference in the morning

Friday:

7.30 am Friday I travel to Athlone to address the National Rural Network Conference.  There is no time to delay afterwards as I must return to Macroom, before then travelling to RTE studios in Cork for an interview with Mary Wilson on Radio One’s Drivetime.  From there it’s off to Ballincollig to an Active Retirement Ireland launch in the Lakewood Clubhouse before rounding off Friday with a speech at the annual Ballincollig Tidy Towns awards.  I must commend the work the Ballincollig Tidy Towns Committee do year and year out to maintain and improve the aesthetic of the area.  They certainly keep us politicians on our toes at election time!

Saturday:

I travel to Newmarket to celebrate the expansion of Ayrton Group’s business there with promoters Kieran & Helen Linehan.  A tremendous family occasion and certainly a pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon marking a good news story for employment in the area.

 

Sunday:

It’s County Final day in Cork but unfortunately there will be no match for me as I have to travel to Paris, to attend the world’s largest business to business trade show ‘SIAL’ on Monday – more on that next week.  Just before boarding I learn of the sad passing of Anthony Foley RIP.  My thoughts go to this family, friends and Munster colleagues.

 

THE MINISTER’S JOURNAL 03/10/16 – 09/10/16

Monday:

The Monday morning papers brought little in the way of joy following the British PM’s confirmation that she intends to press ahead with the invocation of Article 50 by the end of March.  Notwithstanding all the work that has been carried out to date in my Department and across Government in preparation for this eventuality, the revelation of a commencement date for the process certainly focuses the mind on an autumn Monday morning.  I made the short trip to Clonakilty to meet Susan Steele and her team in the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, who briefed me on their activities.  Great credit is due to them for the work they do, with limited resources.  Whilst in Clonakilty I also get the opportunity to meet with the Marine and Fisheries section of my Department as well as some exiled souls in the Agriculture wing of the National Seafood Centre.  The afternoon is spent in my Macroom Constituency office, before heading to Dublin.

NDC.jpg

Tuesday:

Cabinet is the first agenda item on Tuesday morning which just about finishes in time to allow me get to the National Dairy Council & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards.  Nobody does dairy better than we do – nobody! These awards recognise the cream of the dairy industry if you pardon the terrible pun.  Congratulations to the Power Family from Waterford on taking this year’s top award.  From the milking parlour to the trawler in the afternoon with a comprehensive and wide ranging meeting with the Country’s Fisheries Producer & Processing Organisations.  A cabinet sub-committee follows before sitting down with some of my colleagues in the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party to discuss matters agriculture from the Budget to Brexit.  Another late night Budget meeting concludes a busy day in the office.

yfg

Wednesday:

My usual morning routine whilst in Dublin involves hitting the office between 7 – 7.30am and having a quick look at the newspapers before having breakfast in the Department canteen on the 7th floor of Agriculture House, which quite possibly boasts one of the best views of east Dublin City.  The morning is spent running through the format and content for a tillage stakeholders meeting I am hosting later in the day.  At 11.30am David McLaughlin and his troops from Young Fine Gael drop by to outline their priorities for Agriculture & Rural Ireland.  I must commend their document which is well thought out, with many eye catching proposals which certainly merit consideration.  After attending Leader’s Questions in the Dáil, I retreat to the Department to sit down will all the stakeholders involved with tillage in this Country to discuss the present challenges and future opportunities for the sector.  What follows is a constructive, at times passionate but always focused discussion on where the difficulties lie and what can be done to move this important indigenous industry forward.  I confirm early payment of 75% of the BPS & Greening (17th October) which should provide some help in terms of cashflow and there are other proposals put forward that could assist the sector in the short to medium term.  I leave the meeting briefly, ironically to take a topical issues debate in the Dáil on the very issue we are discussing in the Department but I do manage to return in time to conclude the meeting.  My final meeting of the day is back over in Leinster House for the weekly Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting.

Thursday:

My officials are prepared and ready for action at 8.30am for another run through our Department’s budget.  I have been really struck by the professionalism, dedication and passion of those I am fortunate to work with here in the Department.  We plough through every line of expenditure euro by euro, cent by cent.  We break at ten as I sit down with the Irish Alliance for Racing and breeders headed up by Anne Marie Crowley (married to Aidan O’Brien) who was still beaming from their incredible exploits at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.  It’s back to the books afterwards for the entire afternoon.  Thursday concludes with a specially arranged Cabinet meeting at 7.15pm(ish) before making the trip back to Macroom.

cabinet

Friday:

I am on record as saying that I am finding it difficult to strike the right balance between Constituency work and my Ministerial duties since being appointed.  Therefore today is a welcome opportunity to get stuck in to matters Cork North West.  Luckily Catherine & Siobhan in the Macroom office, and Rita in Ballincollig have kept the show well on the road in my absence.  I meet constituents in the Macroom office in the morning before heading east to Ballincollig for the afternoon.  Seems to be lots of bunting and flags on display in Ballincollig – it’s clear to see County final fever has well and truly hit the town (Village).

Saturday:

No official engagements in the diary!! This is a rarity – but not unintentional.  This being my first budget as a cabinet Minister I am keen to make sure that I secure the best budget possible for primary producers and the agri-food sector at large.  I spend most of my Saturday sifting through the files of documentation I’ve been presented with and working out the finer details of our budget presentation etc.  In the afternoon I attend the Rebel Óg, Minor County Semi-final where O’Donavan Rossa Skibbereen overcome Macroom in a lively encounter.  I round off Saturday by attending the Ballinagree Development Group fundraising Concert in the St John the Baptist Church, Ballinagree where we (my wife Sinead & I) were treated to a stirring performance from Soprano Cara O’Sullivan and notably a choir of children from Rusheen, Ballyvongane, Muinefluich and Ballinagree National Schools.

 

 

THE MINISTER’S JOURNAL 26/09/16 – 02/10/16

Since being appointed Minister for Agriculture Food & Marine on May 6th, I constantly find myself recounting details of my week to people I meet.  It was put to me by one such individual (who I won’t name for their sake) that I should document my week in a blog, to provide an insight into my work as a Minister.  So here is the first edition of “The Minister’s Journal” which I hope will give you a little flavour of the work I do on a weekly basis.

 

Monday:

An early start on a stunning autumn Monday morning took me north to Killybegs, County Donegal.  Hailing from a Constituency without an inch of coastline as I do, it was great to be invited aboard the fishing vessel “Vigilant” by Mark Gallagher who provided a most engaging insight into life on the sea.  Back on dry land; I had meetings with the KFO and fish processors in the area before I was honoured to cut the tape on the new €30 million UFI Fishmeal plant and the €2.9 million Small craft Harbour.  From the pleasantries of the openings, it was onwards to a sobering meeting with some Donegal IFA members, facilitated by my colleague Minister of State Joe McHugh TD.  The difficulties in the Tillage sector are to the forefront of my thoughts at present and will dominate my workload in the coming week, as I chair a meeting of stakeholders on Wednesday.

vigilant

Tuesday:

A Corkman in Croke Park is a rare thing these days, but I was happy to lineout early to open the Atlantic Stakeholders Conference.  I hot footed it across the City for Cabinet before again returning to Croke Park for a bi-lateral meeting with the EU Commissioner for Fisheries, Karmenu Vella.  The afternoon was dominated by Budget preparations.  If I had any doubts about how challenging the Budgetary process is for a Minister, I need only sift through the stack of pre-budget submissions on my desk.  The demands far exceed the fairly modest fiscal space that exists for 2017, and that is not taking account of the competing demands from other Ministers.  Tuesday evening is spent taking questions from members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Agriculture on the estimates and the HRI.  Three or so hours in the hot seat and it’s well after 9pm before the Committee adjourns.  A late budget meeting follows before clocking off at 11pm.

 

Wednesday:

7.30am and it’s a case of “on the road again”, this time to Ireland’s Ancient East and the farm of Justin Walsh (who has relatives in Kanturk and Coachford – Small world!!), nestled by the Hill of Tara.  The purpose of the visit is to launch a consultation process for Ireland’s first Farmed Animal Health Strategy.  Disease prevention and eradication can potentially save millions for a Country such as Ireland, with a dependency on an agri-food sector.  I’m confident that this strategy, once completed and adopted can enhance our reputation as one of the safest suppliers of food in the World.  I sat in on Leaders Questions before catching up with Minister of State Andrew Doyle for a lunch meeting on tillage, climate action and the budget.  I had an embarrassing moment when the Department’s IT system began filtering out correspondence from the Oireachtas system, which caused me to be late for a Topical Issues debate on the difficulties being experienced in the tillage sector.  Thankfully the leas Ceann Comhairle and Deputies Fitzmaurice and Rabbitte were understanding and accepted my apologies.  Brexit, Brexit, Brexit is ringing in my ears everywhere I go, and is central to every decision that is now taken in this Department.  Members of the Food & Drinks Industry Ireland dropped in to brief me on the latest developments their members are experiencing as a result of the UK referendum.  Currency issues are proving the most immediate threat to Irish companies trading with the UK, but a comprehensive analysis of some of the potential pitfalls that lie ahead was also provided.  My final engagement on Wednesday was to help launch Bord Bia’s state of the art Consumer Insight Centre the “Thinking House”.  Innovation and new product development is one tactic we can use to Brexit-proof our SME’s.  This facility can help our food producers stay to the fore-front in that regard and great tribute is due to Aidan Cotter and his team in Bord Bia for delivering this facility.

Tara.jpg

Thursday:

Food Wise 2025 is our road map in the Department in terms of shaping the future of our agri-food sector.  We aim to reach a figure of €19 billion in exports by 2025 from the €11 billion figure we now stand at.  This is the entire industry’s document with hundreds of detailed actions that are scrutinised to ensure implementation.  Therefore on Thursday morning I chaired the quarterly meeting of the high level implementation committee which brings together all the stakeholders involved with delivering on the strategy.  IFA President Joe Healy led his team into the Department in the afternoon to deliver their pre-budget submission, followed by the UK’s Food & Drink Federation, who are seeking to build on our joint interest in preserving our special trading relationship with the UK.  It was certainly beneficial to receive a UK perspective on developments.

 

Friday:

It was certainly a case of Back to School with four school based engagements on Friday.  First up was a visit to Millstreet Community School to meet with the 5th & 6th year Agricultural Science Students.  Then it was onwards to Canovee to officially open the impressive new extension to the National School before heading back east to Carriganima to help raise the “Digital School of distinction” flag.  I must commend the staff, parents but most notably the pupils of all three schools I visited.  A quick visit to pay tribute to Tom Kelly, who is retiring from years of service in the Macroom Social welfare office, before returning to my Macroom Constituency office to try and catch up with some of the calls waiting for me.  Rounded off Friday by attending the McEgan College awards night.

canovee

Saturday:

Having started the week in Killybeg’s it was fitting to finish in Dingle, Co. Kerry.  Captain Nigel Collins, briefed me on the tremendous work he and his colleagues are doing in the Harbour centre, which is both a leading fishing port and tourist amenity, side by side.  I managed to catch the first half of the All-Ireland Final replay before participating in the ceremony for the 9th All Ireland Blas na hEireann food awards as part of the Dingle Food Festival.  The success of the festival was clear to be seen in the thronged streets where hundreds basked in the October sunshine.  Congratulations to all the Award winners including Stonewell Cider Company who took away the major prize of the weekend as well as Artie Clifford and his team for all their work in making these awards so successful.  Rounded off a busy day with a quick stop in Boolteens, to meet with my colleague Brendan Griffin TD.  He assures me that Dublin’s three in a row will meet a major obstacle in a young Kerry team in 2017.       

follain

 

 

CREED WELCOMES SUPPORT FOR CORK NORTH WEST SCHOOLS UNDER THE SUMMER WORKS SCHEME

Cork North West T.D. Michael Creed has today welcomed the inclusion of five schools from the Cork North West Constituency in the Summer Works scheme for 2016.  Freemount Mixed National School, Scoil Abán Naofa, Baile Mhic Ire, Scoil Naomh Eoin Baiste, Ballincollig, Scoil Naisiunta Naomh Mhuire Farran, and Freemount Mixed National School Charleville will all receive money to improve and upgrade existing school buildings. Commenting on the allocation Deputy Creed said:

 

“This funding is now being allocated for vital gas works and electrical upgrades in schools. The majority of works will be carried out in schools over the summer months, so as to minimise disruption to students, teachers and other school staff.

 

“The capacity of schools to take responsibility for delivering small and medium-scale projects is a key component of the Summer Works Scheme. The projects approved have been assessed as being priority projects by the individual schools themselves. These works are deemed to be absolutely necessary and we have been able to provide Boards of Management and Patrons with the funding necessary to address the schools’ needs”

 

 

“The Scheme provides support for schools to undertake important upgrading and maintenance work during the summer months. While the sums of money involved are modest, this support is hugely beneficial to each and every individual school.  Furthermore this scheme empowers school management to engage local contractors to carry out the works and therefore is a boost to the local economy”.

MACROOM FIRE STATION TO GO TO TENDER NEXT YEAR

Cork North West TD and Dáil candidate Michael Creed has this morning welcomed confirmation that the tender for the construction of the new Macroom Fire Station is to be issued next year. Commenting on the provision of funding for the project in the Fire Stations Capital project 2016-2020 Deputy Creed said:

“This is a most welcome development for the provision of emergency fire services in the Macroom area. The present fire station in Macroom is antiquated and a new station has been mooted with many years. I am pleased that this is now a reality and that the construction of a new building on an already procured site will be put to tender next year.

“The site which has been purchased for the station is the same site where the new Garda Station which is due to be constructed during the period of the Justice department’s Capital Investment plan 2016-2021.

“This outgoing Government has put in place an unprecedented package of investment for the Macroom area. The upgrade of Macroom hospital, the new Fire & Garda Stations as well as the commencement of the Macroom bypass programme will see this area transformed over the next number of years”.