Independent TD for Clare and drystock farmer Michael McNamara has confirmed to the Irish Farmers Journal that he will run in June’s European elections in the Ireland South constituency.

McNamara will run as an independent not affiliated with any political group, although he said that he welcomes support from both the recently-established Independent Ireland and any other political party.

The Clare man was first elected in 2011 and served until 2016, before being reelected in 2020 and having since served as chair of the Oireachtas special committee on COVID-19.

Having grown up on a dairy farm, McNamara worked as a human rights lawyer with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the UN before entering politics.

Farming issues

Speaking on Tuesday, McNamara stated that his priorities for the farming sector will be to secure funding for any environmental requirements placed on farmers.

Doing so is essential if the EU’s farmers are to compete with “large farming conglomerates” in regions such as North America, South America and New Zealand, he said.

“If we are going to talk to farmers about reducing farming activity because they are in environmentally sensitive areas or whatever, we need to have a funding mechanism to support them,” McNamara commented.

“That was the major problem with the nature restoration law and I saw it myself in Clare and Limerick where there is a significant amount of designation for the hen harrier.

“There was a very innovative project put in place to pay farmers where their activities were curtailed, but that project was finished up by the current Government. We need to put our money where our mouth is.”

Funding CAP

McNamara commented that he will push to bring CAP back to its roots in funding the production of food and seek separate funding for environmental measures, if elected.

“CAP was about ensuring security of supply for food. The environment is now the talk and we should be talking about the environment,” he continued.

“But you cannot have food supplied cheaply, plentifully and to high environmental standards without paying for it.”