Thousands of farmers protest over Cap reform
An estimated 20,000 farmers, accompanied by agricultural vehicles have taken part in a 'day of action' to highlight grievances over proposed Cap reform.
The demonstration began in Merrion Square, three sides of which was filled with protesters, at 12.45pm before travelling down Merrion Row and finally onto Kildare Street.
Speeches were delivered from a stage at the end of Molesworth Street facing Leinster House.
The protest was led by a convoy of farm vehicles, including seven tractors, a combine harvester and a milk lorry. More than 200 buses ferried farmers from all over the State to the protest. Some farmers rose as early as 4am to travel from places such as the Beara Peninsula, Valentia and Achill Island.
Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president John Bryan told the crowd they were there to fight for the future of family farming. He said he was well aware that times were hard for everybody and incomes were down everywhere. “We all want a better future for our families."
He urged Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to fight for a full Common Agricultural Policy budget and for policies that supported productive farmers. “The Cap is not just about farmers. It supports 300,000 jobs right across Ireland and 40 million jobs in Europe,” he said.
After one hour of speeches from farmers representing all sectors the crowd began to disperse at 2.45pm. Supt Joe Gannon from Pearse Street Garda Station said an estimated 20,000 had attended and the crowd was “impeccably behaved”.
IFA general secretary Bryan Barry said it was the biggest crowd Kildare Street had seen for many years.
Parking on Merrion Square was closed off from last night and will not reopen until 6pm. There is no parking on Molesworth Street from Schoolhouse Lane to the junction of Kildare Street from noon to 6pm.
AA Roadwatch said traffic delays were expected.
The protest was called to highlight concerns about planned reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy and the upcoming budget. It also highlighted the margins being taken by supermarket chains at the expense of farmers.
Placard messages included "No Cap cuts; no farm cuts; no extra costs; regulate the retailers."
Earlier Mr Bryan said there was strong support for the march and busloads of people from all over the State would close their farms to come to Dublin. He said the vast majority of dairy co-ops, beef, lamb, pig and poultry processors, grain merchants and livestock marts would not accept farm produce today in a show of solidarity with the protesters.