Beef farmers disrupt traffic in Dublin city centre in further protests

Farmers calling for emergency meeting of the beef taskforce

Beef farmers park tractors outside the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, calling for an emergency meeting of the beef taskforce. Video: Kathleen Harris

 

A tractor protes caused traffic delays in Dublin city centre on Tuesday. A number of tractors, jeeps and trailers parked outside the Shelbourne Hotel on St Stephen’s Green, as beef farmers called for an emergency meeting of the beef taskforce.

Kildare Street, Molesworth Street and St Stephen’s Green were closed to traffic for much of the day.

In a statement released by the farmers, they said they remain “very frustrated with the lack of action by our current government to support an industry in distress”.

They called for an immediate beef price increase, the removal of 16, 24 and 30-month age limits and the 60-day residency rule. They also want the removal of the four movement rule.

“The Bord Bia Price Index shows Irish prices for beef are now 50c/kg behind UK prices and 25c/kg behind European prices,” the statement said.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Paul McAuliffe said local businesses had been in touch with his office complaining about the “unexpectedness” of the protest.

“We need to have a resolution here. Holding the people of Dublin to ransom isn’t the answer and I don’t think that’s what the farmers want either. The minister [for agriculture Michael Creed] needs to roll up his sleeves and fix this problem,” the Fianna Fail councillor said.

“I certainly wasn’t aware it [THE PROTEST]was going to happen today and I think it’s going to impact a lot of people coming in shopping.

“These few days are often when Dublin’s economy makes a few bob, when people are in on overtime and casual work, we have to make sure that those jobs are respected.”

Michael Fitzpatrick, a beef farmer from Templemore, Co Tipperary said farmers had been in touch with gardai to ensure emergency services can access the streets.

“Today’s protest is only a token in that we had to stop lads coming, we limited it,” he said. “We could have hundreds and hundreds of tractors here if we wanted to but we didn’t. It’s just to let the minister know that we haven’t gone away.

“We want an emergency meeting of the beef taskforce and we want all the supermarkets and retail outlets to attend that meeting and to discuss the beef price.”

Tom Burke, a beef farmer from south Wicklow said conditions are “very tough” as “prices keep falling”.

“We won’t have to worry about protests next year because there will be no farmers. There’s men waiting to slaughter hundreds of cattle and they’re just waiting for some sort of a price rise and it’s not coming. It needs to happen right now,” he said.

“If things are like this into the spring, it’ll be a free fall then for the summer. It will be very bleak if there is no price rise over the Christmas. It is freezing but we will stay overnight if we have to, that’s it.”

Jimmy O’Shea, from south Kilkenny said farmers will continue with more protests until there is a beef price increase.

“Price is a huge issue at the moment. Fellas are going out of business, they’re losing money hand over fist. There are lads here who will stay for the long haul, they will stay overnight,” he said.

“It seems the only place you’ll be heard is Dublin. Life doesn’t exist beyond the M50 as far as a lot of Fine Gael are concerned.”

Farmers held a similar protest in front of Leinster House and St Stephen’s Green last month as well as blockades outside distribution centres in recent weeks.