The official launch of the Mulkear European Innovation Partnership (EIP) took place in Oola Community Hall, Co. Limerick this week. This event was very well supported by the farming community, local community groups and all of the project partners; Limerick City and County Council, Tipperary County Council, Teagasc, ASSAP, the Local Authority Waters Programme and the local co-ops. The Mayor of Limerick City and County, Cllr. Michael Sheahan, and other local county councillors also attended.
John Dillon, former IFA president and Mulkear farmer, chaired the event. He stated that the Mulkear EIP offers a new approach to address water quality in the Mulkear catchment by developing catchment sensitive farming practices. Mr. Dillon explained that the project will be implemented across the Mulkear Catchment.
Margaret Murray from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine outlined the development and progress to date with the EIP programme throughout Ireland. She noted that the Mulkear EIP was one of three EIPs dealing specifically with farming and water quality.
Mulkear farmer and Dairygold board member Gerard O’ Dwyer outlined the local farming perspective and the importance of the work of the Mulkear EIP in this regard. He noted that the Mulkear catchment is not an easy area to farm and that land is subjected to frequent flooding episodes. He encouraged all farmers to get involved to support the work of the Mulkear EIP. Mr. O’ Dwyer stressed that the role of the farmer was to nurture the farming landscape and to pass it on to the next generation in an improved condition.
Mulkear EIP manager, Ruairí Ó Conchúir, outlined that this five year project (2019 to 2023) has a total budget of €1,172,830 and that it is an entirely voluntary programme. The project offers an opportunity to local farmers to deliver a partnership approach focused on enhancing water quality and sustainable water management on their farms, via a suite of catchment sensitive farming measures to support farm viability, water quality and biodiversity. It will offer funding and technical support will be made available to participating farmers.
The key note speaker for the launch was Dr. Brendan Dunford of the Burren Programme, Farming for Conservation in the Burren. He provided an overview of the Burren Programme which is also a farmer-led imitative. Dr. Dunford’s key message for Mulkear farmers was that to understand the future sustainability of farming we need to take a holistic view of the sector and that our farmer led approach needs to include education, community outreach and patience!
Carol Quish (Project Administrator, Communications & Community Outreach Officer) outlined the importance of the project’s community outreach work together with the planned environmental education programme within the wider catchment. She noted that this work will commence in local primary schools in the next number of months.
Other speakers included David Thompson (Secretary of the Mulkear EIP Operational Group) who outlined his vision for the Mulkear. He gave a wonderfully uplifting talk about the history of the Mulkear Catchment which was filled with his joy and excitement about the launch of the Mulkear EIP.
Padraig Fitzgerald (local ASSAP / Teagasc advisor) highlighted the support role of the new Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP), Teagasc and the Local Authority Waters Programme and the role they will play in providing support to the Mulkear EIP over the period 2019 to 2023. Finally, Dr. Fran Igoe of the Local Authority Waters Programme congratulated all involved int he Mulkear EIP and wished the project every success as it goes about its important work in the Mulkear Catchment.