Dáil Éireann was suspended twice during a debate on the EU’s proposed nature restoration law on Wednesday evening, after a row erupted between Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett and Independent TD Michael Collins.

Leas Cheann Comhairle Catherine Connolly suspended proceedings after an interaction between the two following the west Cork TD’s allegation that Minister Hackett revealed “private information” on his farming enterprise in the Dáil.

Minister Hackett had said that many farmers are engaging with agri-environmental schemes “including Deputy Michael Collins who is an organic farmer”.

Deputy Collins claimed that he is not organic farmer and called for Minister Hackett to correct the Dáil record and made the allegation that her comments related to information obtained during a farm inspection.

'Private information'

“The only way you’d have known this is previously when I was, your husband inspected my farm and on that basis you are using private information.

"You are using that private information from the Organic Trust to point the finger at me,” he stated.

Minister Hackett responded by suggesting that the two Oireachtas members had “conversations previously”.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue had kicked off the debate earlier in the day by claiming that ministers, the Department of Agriculture and his colleagues are the “only source of the definitive facts” on the proposed nature restoration law.

'Dispel mistruths'

“I am glad to have had the opportunity today to address and dispel many of the mistruths, fearmongering and inaccuracies that I have heard in recent weeks,” Minister McConalogue told TDs.

“The only source of the definitive facts are through those who are working vigilantly on behalf of Irish agriculture in Europe – that is ministers, my Department and our respective colleagues.”

He also said that State lands can contribute “almost all” of the rewetting elements of the plans.

“The flexibilities that I fought hard for within the council’s proposal allow for delivery of this ambition on land under a variety of current uses, not just agricultural area," he said.