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Fifty tractors from Wexford in protest

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Some of the tractors from Wexford at the demonstration

Some of the tractors from Wexford at the demonstration

Some of the tractors from Wexford at the demonstration

An estimated 50 tractors from Wexford advanced on Dublin city centre last week as part of the two-day protest organised by the Individual Farmers of Ireland (IFI).

Organised to highlight the ongoing issues over beef prices, the protest brought traffic in the capital to a standstill as tractors trundled through the city centre and took up residence outside Merrion Square and St. Stephen's Green.

The following day, after an evening which saw some spend the night in their vehicles, the convoy travelled to Dublin Port Tunnel and onto the M50, causing major delays for commuters across Dublin.

One of the committee members of the IFI is a beef and dairy farmer from Wexford. Requesting that his name not be published in the paper, the farmer was one of those who camped overnight in the hope of meeting Leo Varadkar.

'We gave him the chance to come out and meet us but he didn't show,' said the farmer. 'He was inside the Dáil and we camped outside overnight in our tractors, but he didn't come out.'

In addition to the estimated 50 tractors which travelled up from the county, the IFI representative said their numbers were swelled by those making their way up via public transport.

'There were 50 tractors which went up from Wexford, and approximately 150 people from the county altogether, some came up on buses and trains,' he said.

'We had a brilliant reaction from the public. I didn't see anyone who had a bad word for us. And it wasn't just the people passing by, there were others in cars, beeping their support, giving the thumbs up, even the guards were supporting us,' he said.

As one of the IFI's 11 committee members, the Wexford farmer opted to stay in his vehicle overnight, determined to underline the seriousness of the protest and its aims. Yet, in comparison to previous demonstrations, one night in a tractor wasn't all that discomforting.

'We've done it before for six weeks outside Slaney Meats, so what's one night? You either fight or you give up, it's not sustainable to keep going as we are.'

And with an election forthcoming the farmer said this protest should be seen as a warning shot for those in power.

'That's why we did it, the lads coming in have to realise we'll go bigger and better in a few months if we have to. No one wanted to be there, we were forced into it.

'I'm losing thousands every time I go in (to the factory) with cattle, we're 17c behind the EU average, 40c behind England, and 80% of our exported beef goes to the UK.

'All we want is enough to pay the bills, if it wasn't for Dairy Aid we'd be broken.'

Wexford People