Pig Industry

Part of the debate – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 5th October 1998.

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Photo of Mr Denis Haughey Mr Denis Haughey Social Democratic and Labour Party 3:15 pm, 5th October 1998

I support the motion. Although I cannot always support what Dr Ian Paisley says, I am very glad to do so on this occasion.

I regret that the motion is not more inclusive, for the entire agriculture industry is in crisis — the worst crisis in recent times. A two-hour debate is not sufficient to deal with the problems of the pig industry, and is certainly not sufficient to deal with the problems of agriculture as a whole. The Assembly has a duty to look at that whole matter and to look at it very urgently.

We need at least one full day to debate the crisis in agriculture which is affecting our economy so drastically. Mr Initial Presiding Officer, can you advise us on how we might best make arrangements for such a full day’s debate? Can you also advise on how we could arrange for the House to hear evidence from the Ulster Farmers’ Union, the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers’ Association and other relevant bodies? The crisis is one of monumental proportions, and the Assembly has a duty to deal with its effects and the impact of it on the community as a whole.

I further propose — this could be dealt with through the usual channels — that, having had a full day’s debate on the agriculture industry and having taken evidence from the farmers’ representative bodies and others, we take an all-party delegation to meet the Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to try to impress upon him the size of the disaster facing the industry and the serious implications which that will have for the whole of our economy and for rural society in particular.