SDLP Spokesperson for Agriculture Patsy McGlone MLA and Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food & The Marine Charlie McConalogue TD led a delegation this week to meet the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to raise concerns about the implications of Brexit on the Agri-food sector.
The MLA for Mid Ulster commented, “As Westminster causes another crisis, the SDLP held a meeting with senior officials at DAERA to address concerns for the wider agriculture community in the event of a no deal Brexit, and the implications that stem from that.
“The Department advised us they have trained 400 Trade Certification Officers and are recruiting more vets in preparations for Brexit. However, it is extremely worrying news that the Department have no extra funding to deal with the contingency of a no deal scenario, which is still a probability if Theresa May cannot get her deal through Westminster. Some Agri-food sectors, reliant on cross-border trade and access to other EU markets, remain particularly exposed.
“Another issue raised by the delegation, which has caused a lot of community concern, were reports that Radioactive Waste Management were considering the North as a location for dumping radioactive waste. The Department assured us there were no such plans and they had received no approaches about any proposals to dispose of such waste in the North.
“We also requested a brief of the current status of gold mining planning applications. We reiterated our previously stated environmental and health concerns about any such proposals, including opposition to the use of cyanide in the mining process and, given the level of concerns, the need for a full public enquiry into this planning application where all issues can be openly examined under public gaze and scrutiny.”
Mr McGlone added, “This meeting was particularly significant as it was the first official meeting since the announcement of the joint policy partnership between the SDLP and Fianna Fáil, led jointly by respective spokespeople from both parties. Both Charlie McConalogue and I will continue to work closer on this issue given the similarities faced by the Agriculture sector across the island of Ireland at this time.”
The delegation at the meeting included Charlie McConnalogue TD, Justin McNulty MLA, John Dallat MLA, Mark Durkan MLA, Councillor Martin Kearney , Kerri Anne Hughes and Helena Dallat O’Driscoll.