President Michael D Higgins has criticised the United Nations, saying it is “falling” and “losing credibility”.
In his speech opening the National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co Laois, President Higgins was critical of the UN, saying it has been unable to prevent war or famine in countries across the world.
“More and more the United Nations is falling, is losing credibility,” President Higgins said.
While he criticised the organisation at present, he said it would be saved by countries like Ireland, who have “no other aim or ambition other than to have a safe, sustainable, peaceful world”.
The president said people of all ages wanted to see that achieved.
The comments come as thousands of farmers and families have been braving damp and windy weather to trudge across muddy farmlands for the major showcase of farming and rural life.
People wrapped in raincoats and ponchos plodded past more than 1,000 stalls selling farming equipment and exhibiting techniques on the first day of the agricultural event.
The Ploughing Championships is hoping to attract about 300,000 attendees for its 92nd outing.
More than 200 acres of ploughing competitions will be hosted over three days, with more than 320 competitors.
Sheep shearing and a “country style best” fashion show will also feature, as will an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for welly throwing.
Politicians will also attempt to show their commitment to rural and farming life, with political parties having set up stalls and ministers holding several events throughout Tuesday.
Enterprise Minister Simon Coveney said the event represented “something special” in Ireland as he arrived at the National Ploughing Association’s headquarters.
The event comes as political pressure is put on Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue over an EU request that Ireland reduce the volume of nitrogen it produces per hectare.
Farmers held protests at Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s respective think-in events last week, insisting the cut in the nitrate limit would force them to reduce herd sizes.