'Farmers are rebelling against inaction' - IFA protest over Brexit losses

'Where's the beef, ye vegan' - Varadkar heckled as he arrives in Cork

Leo Varadkar
Photo: PA
Leo Varadkar Photo: PA
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar was greeted with chants of "where's the beef, ye vegan" when he arrived in Cork for a Cabinet meeting this morning.

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) is mounting a protest about the situation in the beef sector in Cork City where the meeting is taking place.

The chanting is in reference to remarks made by Mr Varadkar earlier this year where he said he was eating less meat to reduce his carbon footprint.

The comments sparked a backlash from farmers and Opposition politicians.

Speaking ahead of the protest, IFA President Joe Healy said: "Beef farmers need a Brexit support package and we will be sending a strong message to the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his Cabinet".

The beef sector is among the industries expected to be worst hit by Brexit.

In January Mr Varadkar responded to Dáil claims that his remarks on meat were “flippant” and “hurtful” to farmers.

 He said: "I didn’t give anybody dietary advice or suggest that anyone do anything.

"I was specifically asked what I was doing on climate change and I said that I was trying to eat less red meat – not giving it up."

He added: "I had a very nice Hereford steak last night".

Mr Varadkar continued saying he's trying to eat less red meat for two reasons, health and climate change.

Addressing the IFA protest Joe Healy accused the Taoiseach and the Government of failing beef farmers who have suffered losses of €100m from Brexit.

“Politicians have not delivered on their promises. Our message to the Taoiseach and his Cabinet here in Cork today is that farmers will judge politicians on their actions on this issue.

"Election Day is three weeks on Friday – May 24th, and May 25th will be judgment day,” he said.

“Today we are sending a strong message to the Government that farmers are rebelling against inaction. The Minister for Agriculture has been standing idly by, adopting a ‘ wait and see’ approach. This is not good enough,” he said.

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