Tractor protest grinds traffic to a halt in Dublin city centre - and farmers vow to stay put tonight
A tractor protest in Dublin city centre ground traffic to a halt in parts of the city today - and farmers vow to stay put throughout the night.
Around a dozen tractors converged on St Stephen's Green but traffic around the area was otherwise unimpeded.
AA Roadwatch has said Kildare St and Molesworth St remain closed due to the demonstration and that traffic in the area remains busy this evening, but it has improved.
Organisers said farmers from around the country were taking part in the protest.
The protest is coinciding with this week's Christmas shopping rush in the capital.
A tractor protest last month by individual farmers caused significant disruption to commuters with farmers maintaining a presence in the city for several days.
Significant anger has been building in the farming community over the past year over poor prices for their products.
Tim Burke, a beef farmer from Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, said farmers decided to keep the number of tractors at a minimum in order to minimise the disruption to the people of Dublin.
But as the green was bustling with Christmas shoppers he said this Christmas will not be a happy one for many farmers if beef prices remain at the current price.
"Farmers are facing a bleak Christmas," he told Independent.ie this afternoon.
"The Bord Bia price index shows Irish prices for beef are now 50c/kg behind UK prices and 25c/kg behind European prices," said a statement from protesters, calling themselves The Independent Farmers.
While Kildare Street was barricaded with crowd control barriers should the protest move to the gates of Leinster House, Mr Burke said the farmers simply want to get the attention of Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, whom he believes was absent from Government buildings today.
However, he said farmers will stay overnight if necessary in order to be heard.
Among the protesters was Keane Doyle, (20), a beef farmer from Hackettstown, Co Carlow.
Mr Keane said he also holds down another job as a fitter in order to supplement his income from his family's small beef farm.
And he said many other farmers may be forced to hold down second jobs if beef prices remain at the current prices.
Earlsfort Terrace, Dawson St, Kildare St, Ely Place and Hume St had been closed ahead of the proposed demonstration. Traffic restrictions were also in place from Kevin St onto Cuffe St.