We have a Government and a cabinet. This is good. We also have a lot of unhappy voters and elected representatives who feel left in the dark. This is bad in so far as it may detract from the vital work that needs to happen, and happen fast, as the country faces into a recession. The formation of a cabinet that would take on board all elements of diversity was always going to be exceptionally difficult considering its makeup. There is no denying that there are not enough women to reflect the Irish demographic. And there is no escaping the fact that there is no senior minister from Limerick to Donegal at the table. Like most, I believe that the best person for the job should get the job. For the good of the country, let us hope that this cabinet proves its merit regardless of gender and geography.
Earlier this year the director of Teagasc Gerry Boyle spoke about the importance of research
Simon Harris has found himself in a newly formed ministerial position, that of Minister for Higher Education, Innovation and Research. From an agricultural standpoint, this is a ministerial role we should focus on. Earlier this year the director of Teagasc Gerry Boyle spoke about the importance of research at the distance education awards ceremony. “Modern farming is complex. There have been phenomenal changes in the sector that our (Teagasc) teachers need to teach, our researchers need to discover and our advisors need to convey out on farms. We can rise collectively to the challenge of climate change. We have identified practical solutions for agriculture up to 2030, the result of 10 years of painstaking research. Research never stops. In time we will be able to measure carbon sequestration. I am confident we have the solutions.”
I know that a master’s degree would have been out of my reach except that I was the recipient of a Walsh fellowship
Policy is built on solid research. Ensuring that this is funded, independent of commercial business, is important. However, the higher education sector is battling long-term funding issues. Just a month ago, 800 academics and researchers wrote to TDs flagging a “crisis” in research. While the universities are struggling, so are students. After four years in UCD and with four siblings coming behind me, I know that a master’s degree would have been out of my reach except that I was the recipient of a Walsh fellowship. This week Odile Evans outlines some postgraduate funding options.
The positivity and ingenuity would do you good
I was struck by the positivity of our “cover stars” as I read through Maria Moynihan’s feature this week. “We’ve been through hard times before, we’ll do it again”; “We can have a very strong food economy if we just support each other and buy locally.” These are abridged versions of longer pieces you can find online. The positivity and ingenuity would do you good. This week, the Small Firms Association has launched a new initiative #ChampionGreen to promote the benefit of supporting local business. SFA director, Sven Spollen-Behrens has given a figure of €900m as the value to the economy if every Irish person spends €20 each week in a local store. Over the course of my lifetime, all four shops in our village of Windgap closed down. I can’t remember when the last one closed, but it was a long time ago.
Last Sunday, I walked up to the village and bought a Sunday paper in Walsh’s. This fully stocked shop, including the Irish Farmers Journal, reopened during COVID-19. I walked home, happy, with the paper and a litre of milk under my arm and my name in the book to get the paper for me every Sunday. Best of luck to Lou and Ken. Renewal – great for the parish!