Leo Varadkar wasn’t the only middle-aged man to regret his recent nightclub experiences last week.
took the boys to our annual Chrimbo get-together which, as so often, ended with a visit to a Drogheda nightclub.
I thought I’d gotten off easy with a woolly head the next morning but it was Wednesday’s positive Covid test that was the final gift of the night of partying.
After avoiding the virus for two and a half years, I was surprised to succumb so late in the day. But it was a mild dose and the madness in the night was powerful.
Among the various chance encounters was a guy who told me he was delighted to see me enjoying myself.
That was perhaps an insidious compliment to emphasize what a pathetic idiot I seem to be most of the time. But like you do in the bar at 2am on a Saturday night, I took it as best I could. He then proceeded to quiz me about my age before revealing that at 39 he had just broken up with his girlfriend and was also determined to make the best of the night.
This level of detail was probably more than I expected from a stranger I’d never met before, but as I mentioned, it was late in the evening.
And isn’t it a horror how many of us still rely on a few pints to open the gates for a bit of openness?
That or freedom from the straitjackets that our working life imposes on us.
That was the thought that came to me as I listened to Jim Woulfe speak at the last Fianna Fáil meeting in Tyrrellspass. While some Fianna Fáilers felt he had done a great job promoting dairy farming, he also spoke honestly about major issues facing the sector.
“It is unacceptable that the water quality is not up to the required standard, that it has deteriorated particularly in the south and south-east. That’s one of the first issues to address,” said Dairygold’s former CEO.
It was a surprisingly candid admission, given that it came from someone who had effectively led the charge of dairy expansion linked to water quality problems in the South.
He went on to echo many of the sentiments I’ve written about over the past few years.
“It’s a raw nerve for ordinary people. You turn on the news and you hear EPA on water quality…it’s one of those barometers that gets understood by everyone.”
He then acknowledged the enormous challenge dairy farmers face to become carbon neutral, acknowledging that this cannot be achieved without reducing the national herd.
“What needs to be done in relation to the sustainability and climate challenge is that we need to look at voluntary phase-out programs and bite the bullet,” Woulfe said. “We don’t have time to stay in the discussion phase, we have to get into the action phase.”
He pointed to the fact that 2-3 percent of dairy farmers have always left the sector. Perversely, just when we need to at least maintain this rate, it has stalled completely as the Minister of Agriculture backs down on how he could offer such a program to farmers. But delays in getting real action, as Jim Woulfe says, will only make change more difficult.
“I really believe that we can no longer avoid the problems. We must face this to tackle the climate change agenda,” he said.
Too bad none of the dairy chefs had the guts to end the situation long before then. The expansion of dairy farming has been an economic boon to much of rural Ireland and this needs to be protected.
But we can no longer bury farmers’ heads in the sand when it comes to the challenges that enlargement brings. Action is required, now
Darragh McCullough runs a mixed farm in Meath, elmgrovefarm.ie
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/comment/darragh-mccullough-why-this-frank-admission-by-a-former-dairy-ceo-is-to-be-welcomed-42211916.html Darragh McCullough: Why this candid admission from a former dairy CEO is to be welcomed