Thursday 19 September 2019

Tullamore Show urged to withdraw invite to 'traitor' agriculture minister

Under fire: Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Picture: Damien Eagers
Under fire: Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Picture: Damien Eagers
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Organisers of the Tullamore Show are facing calls to withdraw its invitation to Agriculture Minister Michael Creed.

Farmer protesters are calling for the show to show support to their protest by withdrawing the invite to the minister.

Other members of the group are calling for the Beef Plan to take their protest to the show this Sunday, while others are calling for a boycott of the show.

The demand comes as the protest across the country moves into its 13th day, with more than 20 factories affected by the protests. Members of the Beef Plan have demanded the minister intervene in the dispute, where they are calling for a fairer margin of the beef retail price.

Days before the Beef Plan started its protests at meat factories, they targeted Mr Creed at the opening of a milk dryer in Roscommon, where they claim he did not engage with them.

Protesters at Ballaghaderreen - who surrounded the minister's car - called him a "traitor" and asked why he would not recognise the Beef Plan movement.

But since then, Mr Creed has contacted the group to enter into talks - a move which he claims has been rejected.

A spokesperson for Mr Creed said the minister deeply regretted that efforts by his office to reach out to the Beef Plan movement to enter a process of dialogue and to temporarily suspend their protests had been rejected.

"A round-table discussion regarding the current market difficulties involving all stakeholders including Minister Creed, farm organisations, representatives of the beef processing sector, Meat Industry Ireland, the department and its agencies has been offered to the Beef Plan movement.

"In light of the announcement of lay-offs in the meat processing sector, the difficult income situation facing farmers with livestock for slaughter and on animal welfare grounds, the minister is again calling on the Beef Plan movement to reflect on its position and to take up the invitation to enter into talks," the spokesperson said.

Mr Creed has faced intense pressure in recent days to bring all sides together to resolve the dispute.

He previously stressed that neither he nor the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine can legally have any role in determining the prices for beef or any other commodity.

Mr Creed has also pointed out that at the last round-­table meeting, farming groups declined to attend, he urged the stakeholders to recognise their interdependence.

He also called on processors to engage positively with their farmer suppliers to build the sector's sustainability as a whole and to ensure a reasonable return for the farmers upon whom the sector relied for its development.

The Tullamore Show declined to comment, but was due to hold a regular show meeting and said it may come up for discussion.

Irish Independent

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