Farm Ireland

Friday 23 February 2018

Fuming stockmen fight on over Rathkeale closure

Martin Ryan

Angry west Limerick farmers have called for the chairman and chief executive of the Golden Vale Marts (GVM) group to attend a 'Save Rathkeale Mart' protest meeting in the town tomorrow night.

Four members of the GVM board, who are from the Rathkeale area, have resigned from the governing body in protest over the mart's closure.

The organisers will demand detailed explanations from David Naughton, group chairman, and P J Buckley, GVM chief executive, on the decision to cease operations at the mart last December.

The organisers will call for the mart's re-opening at the meeting which takes place at Rathkeale House Hotel at 8.30pm.

Mr Buckley has insisted that the decision to close the mart was taken by the board following a detailed examination of its operations, and he has dismissed suggestions that the move will be reversed.

He said that the throughput of cattle at the mart had fallen off in recent years and the mart had been operating at a loss for some time.

Mr Buckley claimed that GVM could not continue to support the loss-making venue and it was decided to close the mart and dispose of the premises on the open market.

"There was a throughput of 25,000 head at Rathkeale, but that fell to 6,500hd/year. We are in changing times and the running costs were too high for that level of throughput," he said.

Also Read

The premises has not been publicly advertised as yet. Tom Crosse, of GVM Property Sales, said that some legal matters had to be finalised before the mart could be put up for sale. However, it is expected to go on the market in the near future.

The property is reported to have a market value in the region of €1.5m. A portion of the original mart premises, which accommodated the calf sales, was sold to a local purchaser in recent years.

It has been confirmed that Brian Buckley, Simon White, Ger Cahill and John O'Shea, all of whom represented the Rathkeale area on the GVM board, have resigned their seats on the 33-member body.

Simon White explained that he had resigned his seat "on a point of principle" because he disagreed with the decision to close the mart. He said he had been unable to "effect influence" on that decision.

Rathkeale IFA chairman Pat Culhane said that the mart served an important livestock trading area in west Limerick. He believed that the mart centre was a viable business.

Mr Culhane pointed out that local farmers contributed £119,308 in shareholding for the purchase of the mart from private ownership in 1960. He said they should not be expected to pay for it a second time.

Irish Independent