Any future ‘farmers’ party’ will essentially be an ‘anti-Green party’ – and will harm rural Ireland in the long run, according to Shane Coleman.
New research from the Irish Farmers Journal has found that 72% of farmers would support a new a new farmers political party is one was set up.
The research also found that farmers’ support for Fine Gael continues to fall – with just one-in-five farmers now believing that Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue is doing a good job.
Support for Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin has remained static, while nearly one-quarter of farmers now support independent candidates.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, presenter Shane Coleman said a farmers’ party would not be a good thing for Ireland or for farmers.
“Let’s call this what it is, this is going to be an anti-Green party,” he said.
“There is a narrative out there that the Greens are out to get rural Ireland.
What is happening at the moment is not a plot against rural Ireland and a plot against farmers – I think to suggest that it is, is a denial of the issue.”
Shane noted that farmers are likely to be the “biggest losers” out of the climate crisis.
“We have already seen evidence of that this year – they are really badly affected by it,” he said.
“I am not sure speaking to themselves and inward-looking – I am not sure that is the best way to go.”
Despite his reservations, Shane said he believes the party could be successful.
“We have had a history in the past of farmers’ parties winning seats – up to ten seats in one general election. They have participated in the Government back in the 1940s and 50s’ so it can be successful.”
The Newstalk Breakfast presenter noted that climate denial is “by no means limited to rural Ireland” – but noted that farming is one of the biggest contributors to the emissions in Ireland.
“Farming accounts for is it 37% [sic 38.4%] of all greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
“That is going to have to change and I am not sure a farmers’ party that will say, ‘no surrender’ is good for the country and ultimately, I don’t think it is good for rural Ireland because I think farmers are the ones that will lose most of all from global warming.”
Fellow presenter Ciara Kelly said she “understands very much” why we might see a farmers’ party emerge.
“I do believe that farmers and a lot of people in rural Ireland believe that … people are coming for their way of life,” she said.
“The culling of the herd, the moving away from Dairy, the changing of the land, the rewetting – I think they feel genuinely under threat and that their concerns have not been listened to and if you look at the support they have for all of the main political parties - not just the Government parties but also the opposition - there is very little support for any of them there.
“So, I think rural Ireland and I think farmers in general, feel quite disenfranchised and they have seen the success maybe in the Netherlands of similarly disenfranchised rural farming groups and this looks like it is something that could happen.”