The President of The Irish Farmers Association Eddie Downey has said he hopes the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, will not lose focus on agricultural issues.

Mr Coveney was appointed Minister for Defence in addition to his portfolio as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in yesterday's cabinet re-shuffle.

Speaking to RTÉ's Countrywide programme, Mr Downey said that while he accepts Mr Coveney now has added responsibility for defence, he would still expect him not to "take his eye off the ball on agriculture". 

Mr Downey said agriculture was a portfolio which "needs the full attention of a minister". 

He said agriculture is still our biggest indigenous industry and it needs the full attention of a minister

Mr Downey said there was a serious crisis in the livestock industry, which the Minister needed to address. 

However, he said he was happy to hear Mr Coveney retained the Agriculture portfolio. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio yesterday, Independent TD for Wicklow, Stephen Donnelly, said that although he felt Mr Coveney was "a very capable guy", he did not "see the connection between agriculture and defence".