The IFA has dismissed comments made by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett on issues regarding forestry licences as being nothing more than “spin”.

The ministers issued a statement and made comments on the matter as farmers protested the ongoing delays in the issuing of forestry licences outside the Convention Centre in Dublin last Wednesday.

The ministers claimed to have delivered good news to the farmer protesters on what they believed to be improvements in the rate of license approvals.

The two ministers also stated that issues pertaining to the licensing process were being addressed “robustly” through Project Woodland.

“It’s utterly disingenuous of both Minister McConalogue and Hackett to say they had some good news for farmers,” IFA president Tim Cullinan claimed on Friday.

“They told us nothing new. We protested because of the deep frustration over Government inaction.

"We need emergency legislation to give farmers licences for forest roads and thinning operations,” Cullinan said.

Guarantee needed

Chair of the IFA’s forestry committee Vincent Nally added to Cullinan’s criticisms of the two ministers, as he called for the backlog of licenses to be cleared by the end of the year.

“There is no good news in this. We need targets and we need a guarantee from both ministers that the backlog will be cleared by the end of the year,” Nally commented.

“Until we get this guarantee, farmers will maintain the campaign and we will escalate our action,” he continued.

Nally went on to claim that the ministerial statement was indicative of a disconnect that has developed between farmers and legislators.

“Our forests are being devalued while we wait for the Government to commission review after review. We have had enough.

"The spin being put out to deflect from the crisis in the sector will not wash with farmers,” he said.

According to the IFA, should forestry license approvals continue at the same rate as they were issued last week, only 50 licenses would be issued this month.