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Councillor lambasts Mary Robinson over meat comments


Anton McNulty

A FIANNA Fáil county councillor has launched a scathing attack on the former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, for her call on people to eat less meat.
The former President of Ireland has come under fire from the farming industry in Ireland for her comments made at the One Young World Summit in Ottawa, Canada where she encouraged people to stop eating meat in an effort to cut down on ‘our carbon footprint’.
“We have to change, we cannot go on with business as usual. We need each of us to think about our carbon footprint. Eat less meat, or no meat at all. Become vegetarian or vegan,” she told the summit.
Mrs Robinson may have been the first Mayo person and female to be elected to the highest office in the land but it did not stop her home council from lambasting her for her comments.
Ballinrobe-based Fianna Fáil councillor Damien Ryan called on the former President to withdraw her comments claiming they were disingenuous.
“Agriculture is the backbone of Co Mayo and it is an industry and enterprise which deserves support. In a critical time, [her comments] were most unhelpful and disingenuous and I am publicly calling on her to withdraw those remarks. In relation to what affect agriculture in Mayo is having on our carbon footprint, her jet setting around the world in the last 20 years has done a hell of a lot more damage.
“I have experienced nothing but uproar and annoyance from the people in the county since that was said. We have enough knocking of our industries in this country without our own starting and it should be withdrawn.”
The Ballinrobe-based councillor made the comments at yesterday’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council where the majority who spoke supported his position. The only councillor to give an alternative view-point was Sinn Féin councillor Therése Ruane who said that there was no point denying that animal agriculture did have a detrimental affect on the carbon footprint and more support should be given to tillage farmers.
‘Glib and pointless’
Ballyvary man and ICMSA President, John Comer, also described Mrs Robinson’s comments as ‘glib and pointless’ and demonstrated a disconnect from people who relied on the State’s beef and dairy sector.
“Mrs Robinson must surely realise that the issue was much more complex than simply urging individuals to reduce their carbon footprint by becoming vegetarian or vegans. There were several layers of environmental, agri- economic, socio-cultural and political considerations that had to be incorporated into any meaningful policy and addressing the challenge of climate change was not helped by rather glib exhortations that involved throwing out millennia of dietary practice while undermining our biggest indigenous economic activity,  food production,” he said.