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One of Ireland’s largest nurseries told ‘no funds available’ to help with recovery from Storm Ophelia

Nursery owners throughout the country are still facing no assurance of financial help from the government as they assess the damage caused by Storm Ophelia. Photo: John Murphy.

John Murphy, the owner of Annaveigh Plants spoke to us about the damage Storm Ophelia has done to his nursery and the lack of support he has received thus far from the government.

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20 October 2017 | 0

One of Ireland’s largest nurseries was told by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine that there were “no funds available” to them to help with the recovery from Storm Ophelia.

Ornamental Thorn

Damage done to Ornamental Thorns. Photo: John Murphy.

In an interview with Growtrade.ie, John Murphy, the Owner of Annaveigh Plants said: “They [Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine] rang us up and told us that there were no funds to pay for any compensation for something like this and that is where it stands.”

“I am absolutely flabbergasted that the Minister of Horticulture was not standing in my nursery yesterday, ensuring me and my 20 employees that their jobs were safe and that they would do something about it. They are very quick to accept our taxation. . . when it comes to them reciprocating, we get nothing.” Murphy concluded.

Annaveigh Plants produce trees on 80 acres of land, employ 20 people, are one of the biggest suppliers to the landscape trade and local authorities in Ireland, and export to Germany and the Netherlands.

Damage 

“On Monday between 12-3pm  we suffered extreme damage throughout our crops, throughout our growing cycle; crops that were planted this year and right the way through to ones that would’ve been planted four years ago and are now ready for the market.” said Murphy.

Ornamental Pears - Destroyed

Destroyed Ornamental Pears. Photo: John Murphy.

Murphy continued: “We estimate that we have more than 10,000 canes broken – bamboo canes. Yesterday we spent €20,000 on new canes which will be delivered next week. We lost most of our Pyrus cal. Chanticlear, Crataegus, and Malus, and we had breakages throughout the rest of the crops but not as severe as in those three particular crops.

“The biggest problem is the bamboo cane breakages because we need to remove all of the ties on the trees, remove the bamboo canes, re-cane it, re-tie it – the labour involved in that is enormous, we reckon it will take us six months to be back to where we were before.”

Insurance

While those who suffered damage to their property will find some comfort in their insurance payouts the same can’t be said for Annaveigh Plants and other nurseries around Ireland as “nobody will insure a nursery on the western seaboard of Europe.” Murphy confirmed.

Government Response

“We emailed the Minister for Horticulture on Tuesday evening with photographs and at the same time we emailed RTÉ. RTÉ reacted and the government didn’t. The coverage by RTÉ was visual on the 6.30pm news, 9pm news and 1 o’clock news on the radio.” said Murphy.

Destroyed Oak Trees. Photo: John Murphy.

Destroyed Oak Trees. Photo: John Murphy.

Murphy continued: “We received an email from the Department of Agriculture on Wednesday evening saying they would be in touch with us the next day. They rang us up and told us that there were no funds to pay for any compensation for something like this and that is where it stands.”

“The fact it was a crop there was no compensation and they [government] say they don’t pay compensation for crops.” he concluded.

“We had one of our local TDs here, Independent Mattie McGrath TD who came immediately and we have Jackie Cahill TD, Fianna Fáil Junior Spokesperson on Food and Horticulture coming this evening [Friday].” said Murphy.

Going ahead

Five days after Storm Ophelia and as nursery owners like John Murphy of Annaveigh Plants are in the middle of assessing the damage done to their businesses, the thought of survival is one that is sure to cross their minds.

Young Oak Trees destroyed by Storm Ophelia. Photo John Murphy.

Young Oak Trees destroyed by Storm Ophelia. Photo John Murphy.

“We’ll survive but not to the level that we had hope to move forward. There is an opportunity in Ireland at the moment. Landscaping is on the up and we will be faced again with the situation where there wont be enough product in Ireland. We won’t be able to plant enough product because this [Storm Ophelia] will eat into our planting, and the upshot of that there will be more imports.” said Murphy

We weathered the recession of which cost us over €300,000 in bad debts, the Ash blight which cost me €165,000, and the freeze on 2009/2010 which put one nursery out of business; so we are talking €500,000, and now we have this and their [government] response to us was this: “there are no funds to pay for anything.”

Growtrade.ie submitted a press enquiry on Thursday, October 19, seeking information regarding support from the government for professional horticulture businesses, aid available to professional horticulture businesses, if there were surveys of damage being carried out, and if so: who is carrying them out and what are the findings. Growtrade has received acknowledgement of the enquiry and is awaiting the reply.

More to follow.

More destroyed Ornamental Thorns. Photo: John Murphy.

More destroyed Ornamental Thorns. Photo: John Murphy.

 

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