Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has hit out at a “growing number of independents and parties” who are reluctant to move off the opposition benches and take on the “hard graft” of grappling with issues to come up with the best possible outcome.

Speaking on the Irish Farmers Journal podcast this week, Minister McConalogue criticised how social media has devalued real delivery on issues in favour of visibility.

“It used to be the case that politics was delivery - doing things and getting results, and delivering projects in the area or delivering support, let's say, for farmers or making a real impact, tangible impact,” Minister McConalogue said.

“Delivery now is more often regarded or interpreted as somebody repeating or saying what I want to hear.

“All you do is get the snapshot on social media or the clip from the Dáil shouting and roaring - and even though that’s delivering nothing - by virtue of echoing what people might want to hear, that's regarded as delivery now.”

He criticised unnamed politicians and parties in opposition.


“It’s a much more comfortable place to be, because you can always be telling people what they want to hear and sound like you're a great fellow or a great lady.

“Before social media, just simply saying what people wanted to hear wouldn't have the same traction as it does now, because that 30-second clip travels.

"Hard graft and hard work is messy and it doesn't travel as quickly on the social media sphere, but it does impact more on the ground and impact more in real life,” said the Donegal minister.

He brushed off an incident in which he was confronted by several men in a foul-mouthed tirade in Athlone in January as not representative of his experience as a politician.


“There's a lot of people whose focus is on trying to generate material for social media.

“For example, that particular instance in Athlone, I had just finished a meeting with the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association, where I'd spent over two hours answering questions for about 250 farmers from right across the country.

“But the few that came in afterwards, they weren't interested in asking me questions. They were only looking for social media content to put up so that then they could create a whole hullabaloo about it and try and make themselves into some sort of heroes.

“They weren’t interested in coming or joining an organisation or joining a meeting whereby they'd have to talk about their issues, talk about what their policies might be or their views.

“It's about getting the 30-second or the minute [video clip], make it as dramatic as possible…that’s the sort of stuff does travel on social media. So you could spend 10 hours or 20 hours in serious stuff and then get engaged in a serious way, but it's a dramatic piece that then might travel.”

Key health issues

He described social media as one of the “key health issues of our time”, saying that what began as a good tool for informing people “has become quite abusive and corrosive generally”.

“If adults or fully fledged individuals are acting like that in social media, it gives me real concern about what so many people dealing with under the surface in their private lives, which we can't see, and young people in particular.”

Minister McConalogue was speaking in an exclusive interview as part of the Irish Farmers Journal’s 1,000th podcast.

In a wide-ranging interview which looked back at events that have changed Irish agriculture since the first ever Irish Farmers Journal podcast was broadcast in 2015, Minister McConalogue described Brexit and the invasion of Ukraine as the most significant events of his ministerial tenure.

Listen to the full podcast on, where listeners will also be in with a chance to win €1,000.