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Coronation Street's Charlie Lawson backs farmers at Belfast City Hall milk protest

By Chris McCullough

Published 13/11/2015

Actor Charlie Lawson at the protest in Belfast yesterday
Actor Charlie Lawson at the protest in Belfast yesterday

Big Jim McDonald from Coronation Street stepped in to help farmers during a protest at Belfast City Hall over poor milk prices.

Coronation Street Charlie Lawson was on a walkabout in Belfast when one of the farmers from Banbridge spotted him.

Dairy farmers from all over Europe protested in unison yesterday against the dwindling returns they are receiving.

Thousands of dairy farmers took part in rallies led by the European Milk Board (EMB) in Denmark, Ireland, France, Italy, Iceland, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Around 50 farmers stood outside City Hall and handed out almost 800 litres of free milk to the general public and Corrie actor Charlie.

Banbridge dairy farmer James Stewart was talking to Charlie at the protest.

"I saw him walk past and got chatting to him," he said. "I didn't know what his real name was so I called him 'Big Jim' and asked him what he thought about the farmers getting paid so low.

"Charlie told me that he and his wife run a farm shop and that it's a disgrace how the dairy farmers are being treated with such low prices.

"He was very supportive of our protest and got a few photos taken with us."

The EMB, a federation of European dairy farmers and farmers' lobbies, said the protests will send a strong message to the European Commission ahead of its Agriculture Council meeting, being held in Brussels on November 16-17.

In a statement the European Milk Board said: "The crisis in the milk market has been able to spread like wildfire because there is no crisis instrument to counter it. Every country in Europe is affected. All dairy farmers fight for their survival and for the preservation of milk-producing regions.

"By means of strong, symbolic actions, farmers will make clear that they do not accept the current ignorant dairy policy."

The chairman of Fair Price Farming NI, Charlie Weir, said a lot of farmers have apathy for the protests but have lost hope.

"We had 50 to 60 farmers turn up and support us at the protest. Lots of farmers support the action we are taking but feel there is no hope of them achieving anything and they stay away," he said.

"But we need to act. We all need to act otherwise our businesses are slowly going down the drain."

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