Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has warned the lobbying body An Taisce that “if you want a conversation with rural Ireland, you must clarify what they stand for”.

The rural advocate issued his warning after a deeply unsatisfactory meeting between An Taisce and the members of the Joint Oireachtas Agricultural Committee yesterday afternoon.

He said: “Finding out what An Taisce actually wants or stands for is like trying to play handball with a haystack, where each question just rolls straight back to you.

“An Taisce constantly complain about being misrepresented in rural Ireland. Yet they continue to appear to have a single-purpose agenda; to shut rural Ireland down.

“They appear opposed to everything from farming on peat soils to quarries, water development, one-off housing, housing estates, road building, forests and retrofitting.

“They appear instead to only desire to return rural Ireland to a state not unlike that of the film ‘The Quiet Man.’

“It hardly makes rural Ireland an attractive place to live if we are, under this vision, to abandon every piece of progress since rural electrification.

“I have endeavoured to secure a sense of what An Taisce stands for beyond turning the countryside into a green desert without people where only ghost villages are left. Their performance yesterday did not provide me with that vision.”

Mr Fitzmaurice also warned that: “The word sustainability has been turned into a stick to beat rural Ireland with. An Taisce like the word very much.

“But they refuse to answer questions about how many sheep or cattle will be ‘sustainable’ in their Ireland.

“In any negotiation the devil is always in the details. And an Taisce are providing us with fewer details than a timeshare salesperson.

“There are clearly major questions regarding our Climate, Biodiversity, Agriculture, and sustainability which need to be teased out.

“Rural Ireland is especially ablaze with concern over the consequences for our people of the Climate Action plan.

“When it comes to the perspective of An Taisce today, I and rural Ireland are still waiting for answers. It is not a scenario conducive to building trust,” he concluded.

For further information contact Michael Fitzmaurice on 086-1914565

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