Irish farmer delighted with response from EP Petitions Committee
On Wednesday, 27 January, Dan Brennan from Kilkenny returned to the European Parliament's Petitions Committee to provide MEPs with an update regarding the situation on his farm in light of the recently published Irish Department of Agriculture report. Mr Brennan first appeared before the Petitions Committee in 2007 and following that meeting, a delegation from the Committee visited his farm to see the situation for themselves. During that visit, the MEPs also met with the Irish authorities and subsequently made recommendations to them. Mr Brennan said after the meeting that he was 'delighted with the response we got from [MEPs] today', that they had undertaken to investigate the matter further and 'that they do believe us.'
During his presentation to the Committee, Mr Brennan described the 'stunted growth' of his cattle, the weight loss at times and the 'poor milk yield'. He also spoke of the environmental damage on the farm. Mary White TD, a member of the Irish Parliament for the Green Party, and the person who had put together the original petition, referred to Mr Brennan as an 'exemplary farmer' and asked the Committee to keep the petition open. Also giving evidence at the meeting were three veterinary consultants and one environmental scientist.
The European Commission's representative announced that the Commission intends to investigate this matter further with the Irish authorities. Fine Gael (EPP) MEP Mairead McGuinness immediately responded that she had 'a huge concern' that the Commission felt that further investigation was required. In this case, she called for the Commission to undertake 'a deeper investigation' based on the new evidence which had been presented. Independent (ALDE) MEP Marian Harkin agreed that the European Commission 'needs to take stronger action on this.'
Socialist Party (GUE/NGL) MEP Joe Higgins said that 'it beggars belief that this farm family ..[..].. had to come to Brussels.' He referred to the evidence presented at the meeting as 'frankly damning' and spoke of the 'Alice in Wonderland' situation in relation to this petition. Alan Kelly (Labour Party/S&D) said that 'the way in which this family has been left high and dry ..[..].. is nothing short of disgraceful.'
German MEP Peter Jahr wondered why nobody was looking at where the cadmium was coming from and he pointed out that if animals were suffering on the farm, humans must be too. Austrian MEP Angelika Werthmann agreed with Mr Jahr's point, while Romanian MEP Victor Bostinaru said that the 19 year wait for an answer was absolutely unacceptable.
Labour Party (S&D) MEP Nessa Childers pointed out that this is 'an animal welfare issue' and asked whether the European Parliament could ask the European Commission to carry out an analysis of the levels of cadmium on the farm. Sinn Féin (GUE/NGL) MEP Bairbre De Brún called on the Committee to 'become more active' on the issue.
The Committee concluded that the petition should remain open until the situation was investigated properly.
To view the Petitions Committee meeting of 27 January,