Denis Naughten TD has claimed the Government could be sacrificing family farm viability to support the oil industry by continuing to issue oil exploration licences.
“While there has been much talk by Government on the need for agriculture to change to meet the climate challenge, it seems that it is not prepared to act on its own advice when it comes to oil exploration,” said the Roscommon Galway TD.
“If we are serious about achieving our climate goals then we need to radically overhaul our Industrial Development Policy. The one thing we are good at in Ireland is producing food, and producing it in a far more sustainable manner than the vast majority of countries across the globe.
“But as we develop our green image in key markets over the coming decade it will be very hard to justify why, as a country, we are continuing to facilitate oil exploration, especially at a time when we are set to become a global leader in renewable electricity production.
“Government, following my advice, took the decision last July to support this green image by prohibiting the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Building on this decision Ireland is now looking to secure EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for Irish beef. But how can we exploit this green image, if we are exporting food into countries that have stopped issuing oil exploration licences, while our Government continues to hope that it can strike oil off our west coast?
“I believe that oil exploration off our coast is no longer the measure it once was to potentially provide energy security and issuing more licences could actually impede the promoting of Irish food on European markets. Government must press the pause button now on issuing new oil exploration licences which could damage the marketing of Irish Food over the coming years and, as a result, threaten the viability of many family farms,” concluded Denis Naughten.