Minister washes his hands of Brexit threat to boycott Irish beef
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has alarmed the agriculture sector by washing his hands of a threat to the beef sector from British supermarkets.
In the wake of a threat to ban Irish beef, the minister said it was "for the industry to decide" whether the Irish beef market's 50pc stronghold on the British marketplace will stand in the wake of Brexit.
Mr Creed's lacklustre response followed a British supermarket giant launching a 'British only' campaign.
The minister's comments will alarm farmers who are reliant on exports to Britain after the supermarket Co-op piled pressure on competitors to not stock Irish beef.
Irish Exporters Association head Simon McKeever warned this is the "first" of the pro-nationalist moves to emerge from the British market as the supermarket called on other chains to back "home-grown goods".
"If it was to spread to other retailers like Morrisons and Tesco and others it could be very damaging as Tesco is a major buyer," he said.
However, Mr McKeever pointed out Britain remains just 60pc self-sufficient in food - which means it is reliant on imports.
The Co-op chain does not stock Irish meat but it was extremely vocal in highlighting that Ireland was the "biggest beneficiary" of the EU meat trade with Britain.