Alex Massie

Irish Austerity Diet Revealed: Cheese

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Somehow, I don't think this kind of government assistance is going to be enough to soothe Irish woes:

The Government is to distribute some 53 tonnes of free cheese to people in need in the run up to Christmas.

Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith announced the EU-funded scheme today following talks with a number of charitable organisations.

He said the cheese will be available free of charge for distribution to those most in need. It will be available from November 15th “in time for Christmas”.

The State has been given more than €818,000 from the EU budget to purchase the cheese and the Irish Dairy Board has been awarded the tender to supply it. More than €750,000 will be spent on the Christmas scheme.

The Minister said the scheme was “an important means of contributing towards the well-being of the most deprived citizens in the community”.

“I am very conscious that many people find themselves in difficult circumstances at present and I want to commend the work of the many charitable organisations who are working on the frontline to bring what comfort and relief they can," he said. “I am glad to be able to help their work in such a practical way.”

The cheese is available in boxes of 12 1kg blocks from stores in Clondalkin, Portlaoise, Kilmacthomas Waterford, Cobh and Togher Co Cork from November 15th with a “minimum of one box per collection”.

Even Queen Victoria's contribution to Famine Relief was more sensitive than this. Then again, if the EU can afford this kind of "largesse" perhaps it doesn't need any kind of budget increase at all...

Note the geographical discrimination too: Leinster and Munster will be swamped with cheese. Poor Ulster and, as always, Connaught must do without. Since Mr Smith is from Cavan this seems a foolish oversight on his part. If he cannot even bring home the cheese, what right does he have to remain in the Dail once the Reckoning arrives?

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Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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