While she found the idea of plastic hurleys in Croke Park repugnant, Labour Deputy Ann Phelan was certain that Kilkenny would beat the opposition even with them, she told the Dáil.
Speaking during a debate on the current disease threat to ash trees, Deputy Phelan said she was delighted to hear Minister of State Shane McEntee inform the Dáil that Ireland will be self-sufficient in ash by 2020. Ash dieback disease is known to kill 90% of the trees it infects, she said.
Minister of State Deputy McEntee told the Dáil that in Ireland there is a 90% sufficiency in native ash plants but we must import 10% of ash plants from abroad and it is from these imported sources that the greatest risk to the native ash population exists.
On the supply of ash wood for hurley making, he said it was estimated that 2,100 cubic metres of ash wood is required per annum. This equated to approximately 360,000 hurleys. Coillte, supplies roughly 400 cubic metres of this material, while the private sector provides a further 100 cubic metres. The remainder, amounting to 1,600 cubic metres is imported. In terms of output, hurley making is worth between €6 million and €8 million per annum to the economy and it is clear that supply is a major concern for them.
To help alleviate any potential supply problems, the Department of Agriculture has been in contact with Coillte, which has agreed to bring forward harvesting schedules for ash, he said. It would also work with its counterpart in the United Kingdom with a view to securing additional supply.
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