Beyoncé-loving McConalogue faces the toughest fight of his gig in agriculture
Charlie McConalogue would like to go to a Beyoncé gig with Treasury Secretary Paschal Donohoe.
“I don’t know if Paschal would like Beyoncé so much if he had to go with me. I would definitely go to a Beyoncé concert if the opportunity arose.”
Regardless of the Covid restrictions on pop concerts in stadiums, the Minister of Agriculture has little time these days to juggle his portfolio work with raising a young family.
The Donegal TD held senior spokespersons in the opposition, including education and agriculture, and now has one of the most influential seats at the cabinet table, but remains a notorious private politician.
However, as negotiations on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the delicate issue of reducing CO2 emissions come to a head, McConalogue will be pushed to the fore in the months ahead.
Charlie McConalogue in conversation with Seamie English, Oola, Co. Limerick, and his grandson Jack English during his visit to Cahir Mart, Co. Tipperary. The minister said: “My focus is on making sure the funding is strong and then working with farmers to develop our national CAP plan.” Photo: Denis Minihane
The CAP and climate change are the only issues farmers face when they visit Cahir Mart.
One Mart visitor firmly told the minister: “When you listen to the media, it is sometimes like they insult us because even last night they were in prime time and said that the first thing to be hit is agriculture is. ” don’t they notice that we are feeding them first of all?
He asks the minister:
Pat Carroll, who sits on the IFA’s Dairy Committee, also reaches out to McConalogue to raise concerns about the proposed changes to the CAP system, which aim to balance payments but will hurt some farm incomes.
“You take 5,000 euros cut on a family business, that’s 100 euros a week from income. Tell me, every family can cut 100 euros a week from their living expenses? Nobody else in society would be asked.
Charlie McConalogue at Cahir Mart, Co. Tipperary: “It’s a victim to be a politician or a public figure.” Photo: Denis Minihane
“Politically, you have to find solutions to replace this income, otherwise you will tell the next generation to stay away.”
McConalogue listens to the concerns and doesn’t reveal much with his usual calm demeanor and cautious approach that has largely kept him out of the headlines since joining Leinster House a decade ago. But who is the 1.80 meter tall Fianna Fáiler from Gleneely?
“I’m someone who is very interested and passionate about public service and working on behalf of the public. That’s why I got into politics first and foremost. Because I think it’s a noble pursuit. Outside of politics I am someone who is not looking for the limelight, “he says when asked.
Unlike some of his government colleagues, you won’t see him posting family trips to the beach with his wife and two young sons on social media, despite admitting he is under pressure to do so. “There are sacrifices to being a politician or a public figure. They are very much out there; they are sacrifices for your family.
Charlie McConalogue (left) speaking to Sean O’Sullivan, CEO, Cork Marts, during his visit to Cahir Mart, Co. Tipperary. Photo: Denis Minihane
“I’ve seen a significant change in what it means to be a politician in the 10 years I’ve been in politics, and what impact it can have, how it affects and affects the family around you So I am very aware of the fact that I am the one involved, this is a choice that I have made, it is not a choice that anyone around me has made.
He says it’s an unfortunate side effect of what he’s doing.
“But I also know that if you put that aspect too much in the foreground, you bring that more into the equation, you know, so I keep my private life very much separate from political life.”
He adds, “There is undoubtedly an appetite and pressure in general on politicians to do this. For example, if you look at what attracts politicians, it brings that personal aspect into the equation.
Charlie McConalogue (left) talking to Pat Rossiter, Cahir, and Tom Beary, Ballylooby, (right) during his visit to Cahir Mart, Co. Tipperary. The CAP and climate change are the only issues farmers face when they visit Cahir Mart. Photo: Denis Minihane
“You get a lot more hits for that, and I’m sure the public will be happy to see that too. They want to know more about the politician, to know more about their life, who they are. From the point of view, this is not a free pass, and you don’t do it without consequences. “
Before taking on civil service and paternity, McConalogue said he was someone who loved his own space, enjoyed sports, especially soccer, until his “knees were decided otherwise”.
“You don’t get that anymore because between politics and family, you know, after you’ve given the time to work, your next priority is to give the two boys and my wife time.
“A lot – for better or for worse – now the pastime I have and the things I do is going to the playground and the beach or wherever it is, the two kids decide Weekend that they might want to go, ”he jokes.
Charlie McConalogue speaking to an IFA delegation during his visit to Cahir Mart, Co. Tipperary. Many farmers are concerned about the proposed changes to the CAP system aimed at balancing payments, but some farm incomes will suffer. Photo: Denis Minihane.
Away from the playground, he will have a lot of work to do to achieve the best GAP plan for the environment that will also please the farmers, who almost pride themselves on being a remarkably difficult group. Some have already expressed concerns that the new CAP regime will mean financial losses for some farmers, an aspect of the plan that was raised repeatedly during his recent market visit.
A consultation on Ireland’s proposals for the Strategic Plan 2023-2027 will run until August 27, before the Minister finalizes the details.
“Then there are a number of issues that have yet to be decided as part of the development of our national CAP plan that will have an impact on farms, and we are very decisive in how these funds are distributed.
“My focus is on making sure the funding is strong and then working with farmers to develop our national CAP plan to talk to them about how different choices will play out as this is such an important part of the Income of the farmers is then to achieve the fairest possible result from the process, “he says.
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