Department of Agriculture supremo Brendan Gleeson was insistent recently that his senior forestry section officials retained his full confidence, despite a collapse in forestry planting and timber harvesting levels.

Responding to questions at a recent Oireachtas Agriculture Committee hearing relating to the ongoing difficulties in his Department’s forestry section, Mr Gleeson expressed his confidence in his senior staff on two separate occasions.

Was this an expression of support for his embattled lieutenants, the Dealer wonders, or an effort on the part of Mr Gleeson to convince Oireachtas members that the mess in forestry was not the Department’s fault?

Whatever the reason, the headline stats around forestry remain depressingly familiar.

Ireland will still plant just 2,500ha this year. That is 5,500ha off target.