Taoiseach says it's difficult to speak to protesting farmers due to 'no clear leadership'

Beef farmers Michael Mulligan, Pat Cosgrove, Eddie Heslin and Kevin Brady all from Ballyjamesduff Cavan protesting on Merrion Square. Pic Steve Humphreys.
Beef farmers Michael Mulligan, Pat Cosgrove, Eddie Heslin and Kevin Brady all from Ballyjamesduff Cavan protesting on Merrion Square. Pic Steve Humphreys.

Anne-Marie Walsh

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said it is difficult to speak to protesting farmers who are blocking roads in Dublin as there is "no clear leadership".

Speaking this morning, he said he understood their anger because beef prices have been low for a long period, but said there is nothing the government can do bar income supports and finding new markets.

"As you know, the minister for agriculture met with them this morning," he said after giving a speech at a conference on workplace equality in Dublin. "None of the farm organisations are part of this protest and there's no clear leadership so it is difficult to engage with them, but that is what he is trying to do."

He said the government is very aware the farmers have had a very bad time in the last couple of months and years and that 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. He said the price, like that of oil, flour and milk, is determined by the market.

He said the price farmers are getting in Ireland is similar to the European average and higher than outside Europe. "Hopefully the protests will end," he added.

Online Editors