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Galway TDs welcome Govt. decision not to sell off Coillte forests

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THE Government decision last week not to sell off the forestry harvesting rights of Coillte, has received cross-party support from TDs across Galway.

Fianna Fáil Agricultural Spokesman said that the proposal from day one was ‘a stupid one’ that would have had a devastating impact on both the timber industry and the growing rural recreation industry.

“This would have also been contrary to an integrated approach for the development of the forestry and ecology sector. There is now an enhanced opportunity to develop the use of the very valuable Coillte lands.

“This was the second ridiculous proposal from Government in relation to the sale of state assets that they have rowed back on. The first proposal was the plan to sell shares in ESB.

“This would have removed a basic level of infrastructure from public ownership. Undaunted, the Government came up with proposals in relation to Coillte – thankfully in this case they had to submit to the power of careful analysis,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

He said that the Government should now ‘move on’ and stop wasting Oireachtas time on badly thought out proposals that hadn’t even received cursory examination.

Last week Public Expenditure Minister, Brendan Howlin, announced that ‘now was not the appropriate time’ for pressing ahead with plans to sell the harvesting rights of Coillte.

“Our due diligence has indicated that it is not prudent to go ahead and sell the trees in that way and it will not be happening. Instead we are having an evaluation of the future of Coillte,” said Deputy Howlin.

A report by economist Peter Bacon said the Coillte sale made no financial sense. A price of €1.3bn would be needed to make up for the loss of 80 years of profits, he said.

Labour Party TD for Galway West Derek Nolan has said that last week’s decision not to sell of harvesting rights on Irish forests showed that the public interest had been put first.

“This is an issue that Labour Deputies have been lobbying Minister Howlin on for a long time, and I am glad he has taken our views on board. I also know that the people of Galway will be relieved that their access to Coillte forests in the area will not be compromised, as they will remain in State ownership,” said Deputy Nolan.

West Galway Fine Gael TD Sean Kyne has also welcomed the decision not to proceed with the sale adding that it was made on the basis of a thorough analysis undertaken by NewERA, Coillte, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and my Department.

“As part of the process, a number of detailed financial, technical and other specialist reports were prepared in relation to Coillte, by external specialist consultancy bodies, in full consultation with the Board of Coillte and its executive management,” said Sean Kyne.

East Galway Fine Gael TD, Paul Connaughton jnr. has also welcomed the Government decision not to sell off the Coillte harvesting rights.

“I think that on balance this is a very good decision and wil protect the country’s forestry interests for generations to come,” said Deputy Connaughton.

 

Connacht Tribune

Gardaí and IFA issue a joint appeal on summer road safety

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Galway IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chair Teresa Roche

GARDAÍ and the IFA have issued a joint appeal to all road users to take extra care as the silage season gets under way across the country.

Silage harvesting started in many parts of Galway last week – and over the coming month, the sight of tractors and trailers on rural roads will be getting far more frequent.

Inspector Conor Madden, who is in charge of Galway Roads Policing, told the Farming Tribune that a bit of extra care and common-sense from all road users would go a long way towards preventing serious collisions on roads this summer.

“One thing I would ask farmers and contractors to consider is to try and get more experienced drivers working for them.

“Tractors have got faster and bigger – and they are also towing heavy loads of silage – so care and experience are a great help in terms of accident prevention,” Inspector Madden told the Farming Tribune.

He said that tractor drivers should always be aware of traffic building up behind them and to pull in and let these vehicles pass, where it was safe to do so.

“By the same token, other road users should always exercise extra care; drive that bit slower; and ‘pull in’ that bit more, when meeting tractors and heavy machinery.

“We all want to see everyone enjoying a safe summer on our roads – that extra bit of care, and consideration for other roads users can make a huge difference,” said Conor Madden.

He also advised motorists and tractor drivers to be acutely aware of pedestrians and cyclists on the roads during the summer season when more people would be out walking and cycling on the roads.

The IFA has also joined in on the road safety appeal with Galway IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chair Teresa Roche asking all road users to exercise that extra bit of care and caution.

“We are renewing our annual appeal for motorists to be on the look out for tractors, trailers and other agricultural machinery exiting from fields and farmyards,” she said.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Calls to ‘revisit’ exclusion of sheep sector from Brexit reserve fund

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Deputy Seán Canney

MINISTER for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, has been asked to review a decision taken over recent weeks to exclude the sheep farming sector from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR).

East Galway Independent TD, Seán Canney, has called on the Agriculture Minister and Government to ‘revisit’ the issue of sheep farmers and the BAR fund.

Galway IFA Chair, Stephen Canavan, also said that a mistake had been made in terms of excluding the sheep sector from the BAR funding.

“I think that there is no doubt whatsoever that Brexit had a major impact in terms of New Zealand lamb exports flooding the UK market.

“The knock-on affect of that on Irish sheep farmers was a serious fall-back on lamb and hogget prices through the early months of this year.

“There are now serious concerns that the farmers who buy in store lambs through the early autumn period will just pull out of this market after getting such a scalding over the past six months or so,” said Stephen Canavan.

According to Deputy Seán Canney, all of the Regional Group of TDs are backing the move to get the Government to have another look at the use of the BAR fund for the sheep sector.

“The evidence that sheep farming was affected by Brexit is strong and the decision not to support people in this sector needs to be reversed immediately.

“Brexit negotiations began in June 2016 and caused turmoil in the sheep trade as it weakened the currency making UK lamb far more competitive.

“The notion or threat of ‘a no deal ‘ in Brexit caused the price of sheep to fluctuate repeatedly in the trade and resulted in lambs selling for an estimated €30-€50 lower per head each year during the entire Brexit process,” said Deputy Canney.

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Connacht Tribune

Dairy sector driving land market

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Auctioneer Martin O’Connor of DNG O’Connor

WITH the exception of Leitrim, Galway was marginally the cheapest county in the west and north-west to buy non-residential farmland during the course of 2022, according to the latest national survey of prices.

The survey showed that the average price of an acre of ‘good land’ in Galway last year, for holdings under 50-acres, was €9,500 – the dearest was Donegal at €12,143 while the cheapest was Leitrim at €6,140 an acre.

Jointly researched by Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCCI) and Teagasc, the survey also indicated that only 0.5% of land in Ireland goes up for sale each year, a major factor in terms of demand for leased land.

‘Good land’ in Mayo [under 50-acres] averaged out at €10,092; the figure for Roscommon was €9,938; with Sligo coming in at €9,550.

When it came to a comparison of poorer quality land in Connacht [under 50-acres], Mayo was the cheapest at €2,886 followed by Leitrim on €3,300 while Galway topped ‘poor land price league’ at €5,375 per acre.

Auctioneer Martin O’Connor of DNG O’Connor, Oughterard, said that the market was being driven by dairy farmers ‘who are continually ranked throughout the survey as the most likely purchasers of land across the country’.

He said that changes in the European Nitrates Directive in relation to improving water quality meant that many dairy farmers needed more land to comply with this directive.

“In order to maintain current levels of milk production – and to comply with the directive – many dairy farms will need to either increase their land area or reduce milk production.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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