Climate measures for farming and taxation dominated exchanges when Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald addressed the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) AGM on Monday afternoon.

Describing herself as “the daughter of a west-Tipp man who was reared on a dairy farm”, the Sinn Féin leader was accompanied by the party's agriculture spokesperson Deputy Matt Carthy TD.

It was the most significant address in living memory by a Sinn Féin leader to a farming organisation, and the questions came thick and fast afterwards.

While there was a wide range to the questions, two themes in particular dominated. One was climate targets and how to meet them; the other was taxation measures, particularly in relation to land transfer taxes.

Ironclad undertaking

One farmer asked: “Can you give me a solid ironclad undertaking here that any capital taxes do not affect farm assets, the land, the buildings, any other assets that’s attached to the commercial family farm?”

"You’ve asked me a straight question and the answer to that is 'yes'," came the response from McDonald.

“There will be a lot of discussion around taxation policy, particularly as we move into election season,” she continued.

“I would just appeal to people here to listen to what we are actually saying, not to the spin that is sometimes put on what we are saying."

"The objective for Sinn Féin is a balanced, progressive taxation system to fund all the services we all rely on," she added, "but of course working assets, farm assets, of course they are distinct from other assets that we would have looked to capture in a wealth tax”.

We don’t get away with bullshitting you on issues like this

When asked about whether Sinn Féin would increase funding for the dairy beef scheme, Matt Carthy was blunt in his response.

"Every year we produce an alternative budget. The difficulty in that is we don’t get away with bullshitting you on issues like this," he said.

"We didn’t provide for more funding for the dairy calf-to-beef scheme, to be quite frank we want to analyse it further. We want to make sure the correct model is being used up to engaging on it."


There were questions as to whether the Green Party would be potential coalition partners for Sinn Féin in a future government.

Deputy Carthy quipped that this decision could be made for them by the electorate - "the best case scenario would be if the Green Party have no TDs in the next Dáil".

In her closing comment, party leader McDonald said: "Our way of doing things, if in government, will be one of engagement, not one of generating or succumbing to a hostile view of and putting you in the corner of shame.

"We are looking to form a partnership with Irish agriculture to meet what are huge challenges, including the challenge of climate, because it's not going away, we don't have an option," she said.