The crisis in the beef industry, specifically regarding the cross border trade, was discussed at a meeting in Ballinasloe tonight (Friday) when Sinn Féin’s Dáil spokesperson on agriculture, Martin Ferris TD hosted a meeting between the North’s agriculture minister, Michelle O’Neill MLA, two of the party’s MEPs Matt Carthy and Martina Anderson and managers of livestock marts from the border counties and the west.
Speaking afterwards, Minister O’Neill said: “There was a great sense of common purpose, with recognition that if the issues regarding labelling are not resolved, the beef sector in the South is in danger of going under. I have outlined my commitment in resolving this issue, but political will is required from others.
“There was also a clear sense of urgency and I am glad that we had the opportunity to discuss a plan of action which will involve broad cooperation between farmers, marts & farming organisations and politicians. This is very much about protecting rural Ireland and our small farms now and in the future.”
Later at a public meeting in Gullane’s Hotel, Ballinasloe, packed with beef farmers from the region, the IFA president Eddie Downey said that the issue was a political issue and called on Minister Simon Coveney to co-operate with Minister Michelle O’Neill the cross border labelling problem.
Speaking from the floor, farmers expressed anger at the inactivity of the Southern government and pledged themselves to support the efforts of Minister O’Neill to achieve derogation from the EU on labelling.