Forestry representatives have lambasted the Department of Agriculture for its slow response to the findings of the ash dieback review.

Simon White of the Limerick and Tipperary Woodland Owners group said the Department’s response to the independent Ash Dieback Review was a “national disgrace”.

The IFA and Irish Forestry Owners (IFO) have also expressed “deep frustration” and “huge disappointment” with the Department regarding the review.

The independent review, which was published last September, savaged the Department’s performance on ash dieback and called for an urgent and immediate response by the State to the disease.

“It is a national disgrace that the urgent nature of the issue [ash dieback] has been denied by a cold calculating administration that shows little or no empathy with those who suffer severe financial and mental stress,” White maintained.

He called on Minister of State Pippa Hackett to put in place a Department-led taskforce on ash dieback that included representatives of the estimated 6,000 growers affected by the disease.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Olive Leavy of the IFO.

“It is with deep frustration that we are starting another year making the same call for the ash dieback emergency to be properly addressed. We fear that the ripple effects of this inaction [on ash dieback] will be felt long into the future and we call on the Government to immediately implement the recommendations of the review,” she added

“Our forestry sector, which should be leading our climate change initiatives, is instead teetering on the brink of collapse,” Leavy warned.

IFA’s Geraldine O’Sullivan bemoaned the Department’s failure to act with “speed and urgency” in the wake of the review’s publication and called on the Government to publish its implementation plan as a matter of urgency.

A Department spokesperson said that detailed work is ongoing across government departments to ensure an efficient, appropriate and proportionate response to the report.

“A detailed ash dieback action plan is being prepared for submission to cabinet for approval in the very near future” to deal with the issue.”