The recently launched ‘Farming Alliance’ could replicate the recent success of the farmer backed political party in the Netherlands.
On Tuesday 21 March Aontú Leader, Peadar Tóibín TD questioned the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar about the disconnect between rural Ireland and our Dublin-centric government.
Deputy Tóibín began: “The recent elections in the Netherlands have sent shockwaves through its political establishment. Hundreds of thousands of citizens broke with all expectations and voted for the farmers’ party in protest against their political establishment. We have a similar disconnect between many people in regional and rural Ireland and the political bubble that exists in this country.”
He continued: “The majority of political parties in this country are heavily Dublin based. Indeed, ten counties currently have no Minister, yet in one Dublin constituency, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, all the Deputies are Ministers. Currently, 40% of all Ministers in this country are from Dublin.”
Plight of Farmers
The Aontú Leader explained how a third of farmers are currently making a loss, a third have off-farm jobs to survive and only a third are making a living solely from farming.
Climate Change Contradictions
Deputy Tóibín detailed the huge contradictions in the government’s response to climate change.
On the one hand the government is disproportionately loading climate change costs onto farming families, while at the same time “opening data centres, importing Brazilian beef etc.”
He concluded by asking the Taoiseach: “When will this Government treat rural and regional Ireland as more than a box-ticking exercise?”
British communication expert Peter Bull has distinguished thirty-five techniques politicians use to avoid answering a question, one of which they will deliberately deploy when they rise to their feet.
It takes a great deal of practice to formulate these responses spontaneously.
Leo Varadkar has honed the art of evasiveness over many years and is now a prime exemplar of the practice.
On Tuesday the Taoiseach chose a popular avoidance tactic, ignore the question.
As soon as he had the floor, Varadkar pivoted with comic bonhomie to establish his credentials as a rural dweller: “I am somebody from Dublin who has lived beyond the M50 for almost my entire life,” he declared and proceeded to scold rural TD’s for being ignorant of the difference between Dublin 24 and Dublin 13?
“There is a lot more to Dublin than Dublin 2, 4 and 6, or Dublin 1,” he enthused with such gravitas it could lead the uninitiated to believe this had everything to do with answering the question on the difficulties facing farmers.
His tactic worked! The following day he was crowned lead actor in Miriam Lord’s satirical ‘Dáil Sketch’ in the Irish Times.
Her skit under the headline ‘Blanchardstown Hillbilly Leo leaves Tóibín bemused’ occupied two columns on page 2 of Wednesday’s Times.
“Peadar Tóibín of Meath West, out standing in his own field as Aontú’s sole standard bearer in the Dáil… felt it his duty to speak out yesterday about the disgraceful bias at Ministerial level against politicians who are not from Dublin,” she wrote.
“Peadar of the poor mouth was feeling very hard done by. Not only is the Dáil top heavy with Dublin deputies but 40 per cent of ministers are drawn from the capital,” she quipped.
In fairness she noted that Varadkar “didn’t address the Meath deputy’s charge about the treatment of farmers. Instead, he decided to gently chide deputies from rural Ireland for their lack of knowledge about Dublin.”
With her trademark sarcasm she noted: “The Healy-Raes weren’t there to put Portobello resident Leo right on the political significance of that magical but much neglected land that lies beyond the Red Cow Roundabout. None of the Roaring Independents were on hand to tear strips off the Taoiseach, so he was able to blather on.”
We’ve witnessed the political tide turn across Europe from north to south in recent elections in Italy and The Netherlands. As I write France is gripped by nationwide demonstrations and strikes that has mountains of garbage pile along the streets of Paris.
The Telegraph reports this afternoon that a lavish banquet at the Palace of Versailles billed as the “highlight” of King Charles’s state visit to France which begins on Sunday may be moved or even cancelled over safety fears linked to violent protests.
I’m sure you remember from your school days if you were paying attention in history class that the storming of the Palace of Versailles 5 October 1789 by the angry women of Paris triggered a chain of events during the French Revolution that led to the execution of Louis XVI, 21 January 1793.
To quote Bob Dylan:
𝑌𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑜𝑙𝑑 𝑟𝑜𝑎𝑑 𝑖𝑠 𝑟𝑎𝑝𝑖𝑑𝑙𝑦 𝑎𝑔𝑖𝑛𝑔
𝑃𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑒 𝑔𝑒𝑡 𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑛𝑒𝑤 𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑖𝑓 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑐𝑎𝑛‘𝑡 𝑙𝑒𝑛𝑑 𝑦𝑜𝑢𝑟 ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑑
𝐹𝑜𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑎–𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑔𝑖𝑛‘
There is a new mood beginning to sweep through Ireland too which sociologists sometimes refer to as ‘zeitgeist’ meaning spirit of the time.
Mcompass Media recently interviewed George O’Malley, spokesperson for the newly formed, ‘Farming Alliance’.
Yesterday, as the Dublin Headquartered Irish Times was making a skit of Deputy Tóibín voicing concerns about threats facing rural communities across Ireland, George O’Malley was being interviewed by Sue Nunn on KCL96fm which broadcasts to Carlow, Kilkenny and surrounding counties in South Leinster.
George and Pat O’Toole of the Farmer’s Journal entered into a very insightful discussion on the emergence of a new political platform inspired by the success of the Netherlands Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB), to represent the views of rural communities ahead of the next election that will bring together various interest groups including farming, forestry, fisheries, transport, tourism, housing etc.
Despite the fact that BBB is less than four years old, it has just won 20% of the vote in provincial elections, a huge increase on the 1% it got in the 2021 general election.
BBB led by Caroline van der Plas whose Irish mother is Nuala Fitzpatrick, will now see her party take 20% of the seats in the Dutch upper house, the senate.
O’Malley and O’Toole’s speculation that BBB’s meteoric rise to power could be replicated in Ireland is really worth listening to and is available on this link https://m.soundcloud.com/kclr96fm/the-way-it-is-is-there-a-case-for-a-farmers-political-party-as-there-is-in-holland
‘𝐹𝑜𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑎–𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑔𝑖𝑛‘ and we could see Varadkar’s party relegated to the back benches after the next election.