The top brass in the Department of Agriculture are facing another grilling from their noisy neighbours, the Dealer understands.

Brendan Gleeson and his lieutenants have been called before the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Agriculture once more to explain the continued failure of Kildare Street’s forestry programme.

The latest joust between the mandarins and elected representatives is scheduled for Tuesday next (14 September).

This is the fourth time that senior Department officials have been hauled before the TDs and senators to explain the ongoing forestry crisis.

And if it is anything like previous encounters, it promises to be a pretty feisty affair.

The latest progress report from the Department doesn’t paint a very happy picture for the sector.

There was a target of 400 licences to be issued to private foresters in July and August, but only 46 were processed. This is less than 12% of the target.

Ironically, 100 licences were given the green light by the Department’s forestry section last week. Might this improved performance be linked to next Tuesday’s meeting?

Meanwhile, agriculture committee stalwart, Michael Fitzmaurice, has warned that he will table a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, if the forestry debacle has not been sorted by the time he receives private member speaking time in the Dáil this autumn.

The clock is ticking.