Farmers end blockade but warn of chaos for Christmas

Squeezing past: Sophie Stapleton from Blackrock makes her way to work through the tractor blockade on St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. PHOTO: Gerry Mooney
Squeezing past: Sophie Stapleton from Blackrock makes her way to work through the tractor blockade on St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. PHOTO: Gerry Mooney

Claire Fox and Anne-Marie Walsh

Farmers have threatened to bring Dublin to a standstill again before Christmas if their demands aren't met after their tractor protest was lifted.

About 100 farmers slept in their tractors parked in Dublin's St Stephen's Green area in a bid to put pressure on Agriculture Minister Michael Creed for injunctions that were placed on farmers to be removed and beef talks to be resumed.

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A blockade of tractors had caused chaos in the capital's centre with a number of roads closed and diversions in place. The protest was lifted at around 2.30 yesterday afternoon.

Speaking at a conference in Dublin, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he understood farmers' anger because beef prices have been low for a long period, but said there is nothing the Government can do apart from income supports and finding new markets.

He said the Government is very aware the farmers have had a very bad time in the last couple of months and years and beef prices are below the cost of production.

Mr Varadkar said that is not sustainable for anyone.

"But we also need to be honest with beef farmers as well," he said. "There are some things the Government controls and some things the Government doesn't and the beef price is one of them."

Mr Creed met a small delegation of farmers in the foyer of his department shortly after 8am yesterday.

They called for him to retract "false" comments in the Dáil stating meat company managers received death threats at a firm which got an injunction against blockading beef farmers.

Farmers said that there was no complaint attached to the Garda Pulse system for the alleged incident related to the injunction.

Gardaí have said that they have not received a formal complaint in relation to the threats but are aware of a phone call being made to a person.

A Garda spokesman told the Irish Independent: "An Garda Síochána is aware of incidents of phone calls received by a person but neither an allegation or formal written complaint of a 'death threat' has been made."

Beef farmer John Dallon from Kildare, who met Mr Creed, said that they "didn't really get anywhere" in their discussions but said they hoped for the five farm organisations - who weren't involved in the blockade - to meet over the coming days to resume the beef task force talks.

"We had a good talk with Minister Creed, he understands," said Mr Dallon. "And the way it is we've told him we'll be back on the 15th (of December) to hit the distribution centres.

"We need to build trust in the minister.

"At the moment we have very little trust in the minister," Mr Dallon said.

"Everyone is going home, they are disillusioned and tired and have no confidence in Minister Creed.

"Minister Creed has until December 15 to sort out this mess.

"We will come back again and will hit the distribution centres and block lorries going in and out if needs be.

"If the people of Dublin want food, they better start shouting at Minister Creed to sort this out."

Irish Independent