Thousands of farmers from Roscommon are expected to converge on Dublin tomorrow in what is anticipated to be one of the largest farm demonstrations on the streets of the capital for many years.
As many as 2,000 farmers from the county are expected in the capital tomorrow to protest over a planned EU beef deal, known as the Mercusor deal, a common trade area of South American countries which includes Argentina and Brazil.
The proposed measure would see as much as 99,000 tonnes of beef steak being imported into the EU, which local farmers feel will have a disastrous effect on the beef sector and beef farmers in particular.
Elphin farmer Conal Tiernan is one of the local organisers of the protest, which will take place at 12 noon outside the gates of Leinster House. He said the protest was more than about farmers’ livelihoods.
“This is no longer a farming issue. It’s an issue for rural Ireland. Small villages and towns such as Elphin and Strokestown will be wiped out if this deal becomes a reality. The deal will also wipe out farming in general.
“We have three buses booked for the rally. There is a huge interest from Roscommon. We’ve received support from farm bodies such as the Irish Drystock FarmersAssociation) and the ICMSA but not from the IFA.”
However, the IFA has defended its decision not to participate in tomorrow’s planned protest.
The organisation’s county chairman, Jim O’Connor that the organisation was today meeting with Oireachtas representatives in Dublin. “We feel it is best to represent our members by lobbying our Oireachtas representatives, who are the decision makers on this issue. These are the people who represent the interests of rural Ireland and it is important they are fully briefed before any decision is made.”
Chairman of the IFA’s Beef Committee in Roscommon John O’Beirne said the Mercusor deal was compounding the uncertainties farmers were also facing over Brexit.
“Cattle are currently being quoted 365 to 375 cents a kilo – cattle cannot be produced at that money. Beef farmers at present are lucky to be breaking even, but most are losing money,” says Mr O’Beirne.
Buses bringing farmers to the rally are leaving Elphin Mart at 8 a.m.; Strokestown and Casey’s Roscommon at 8.30 a.m. and Ganly’s Athlone at 9 a.m..