Maeve Dineen Editor of the Farming Independent and Presenter of RTE’s rural life programme Ear to the Ground was the star panelist. She was articulate and direct in her answers. She displayed a clear insight into farming problems and the threat posed to Irish farming by the WTO.
Journalist Eamon Delaney is apparently a strong supporter of Brian Cowen. He emphasized that Ireland has benefited immensely from free trade. This is fine as far as it goes. He obviously supports free trade in food. Unfortunately he failed to refer to the dangers posed by imports -of food products such as beef from Brazil- which often lack traceability. Is he not concerned with the health implications? Is he not concerned at EU hypocrisy on the environment? Apparently the EU is determined to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions. Yet it is prepared to increase beef imports from Brazil. Much of these will come from the destruction of the Amazonian Rainforests. The burning of the forests will increase the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Eamon Delaney's support for free trade in food fails to take account of the necessity to ensure security of supply.
Padraig Walshe of the IFA emphasized the dangers poised by the WTO. He stressed that 50,000 farmers would disappear and that a further 50,000 off farm jobs would go.
Eamon Gilmore and John Gormley were largely supportive of Irish farmers. Will John Gormley push for the use of the veto if necessary? Will the Government use the veto to rein in Peter Mandelson who appears to have gone beyond his brief at the WTO.