Farmers' `winter of discontent' to begin with Dublin protest

 

The "winter of discontent" promised by the Irish Farmers' Association will begin in earnest at the end of the month with a mass demonstration in Dublin, the association's president said following a meeting with politicians in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.

Mr Tom Parlon outlined at the meeting the key demands of farmers as the extension of the family income supplement and the immediate introduction of emergency EU beef intervention.

Two former Taoisigh, Mr Albert Reynolds and Mr John Bruton, and the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture with responsibility for Rural Development, Mr Noel Davern, were among the 70 representatives who met the farmers.

Mr Parlon was scathing of the Government's attempt to cope with the litany of disasters which have hit the sector and said he was "disgusted" with the paltry amount of aid being offered to farmers hit by the fodder crisis.

He accused the Minister for Agriculture, Mr Walsh, of failing to deliver to the farming community.

He also criticised the Fine Gael leader, Mr Bruton, and accused him of not appearing in the Dail during last week's debate on agriculture. Mr Bruton defended his party's handling of the crisis and said he was supporting the extension of the family income supplement scheme.

Mr Davern defended the Government's handling of the situation and was highly critical of the beef processors who had failed to pass on a 5p-per-lb increase gained through a change in EU export refund subsidies.

Last evening, Mr Walsh announced the reopening of the beef trade with Iran. He said Iran had lifted its precondition that beef should be supplied only from counties which had low BSE levels.

The IFA said the Iranians were unlikely to take beef before the end of the year, too late to avert the current difficulties. It did, however, welcome the announcement.