Belfast Telegraph

Beef taskforce meeting adjourned after scuffle outside agriculture department

Michael Creed, the Minister for Agriculture, condemned the incidents.

The deal struck last month included the reform of the beef sector and an immediate increase in prices for farmers
The deal struck last month included the reform of the beef sector and an immediate increase in prices for farmers

By Cate McCurry, PA

The inaugural meeting of the newly established Beef Taskforce has been suspended following altercations outside the building where it was due to take place.

A group of farmers were holding a protest outside the Department of Agriculture when they blocked the entrance and prevented representatives from Meat Industry Ireland (MII) from entering.

The group from MII arrived at the Agriculture House to hold a meeting with department officials after an agreement was made last month which ended a number of protests outside meat plants.

There was a brief standoff outside the building on Monday before the delegation from MII left.

It was a great pity that farm representatives were not in a position to air the legitimate concerns of farmers at the Taskforce Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed

In a statement, MII said: “A delegation from Meat Industry Ireland this morning sought to attend a meeting of the Beef Taskforce at the invitation of the chairman and the Minister for Agriculture.

“On their arrival they were physically and aggressively prevented from doing so by protesters.”

Michael Creed, the Minister for Agriculture, condemned the incidents on Monday morning.

He said: “It is in the interests of everyone involved in the beef industry that the work of the Taskforce goes ahead.

“The Taskforce’s remit is to monitor the implementation of the actions arising from the agreement reached on 15 September and offers  the most viable platform for strategic engagement with key stakeholders.

“It was a great pity that farm representatives were not in a position to air the legitimate concerns of farmers at the Taskforce.”

The deal struck last month included the reform of the beef sector and an immediate increase in prices for farmers.

It also involved a number of interventions to provide immediate benefit for beef producers, as well as a range of strategic measures to address structural imbalances in the sector.

The IFA’s (Irish Farmers’ Association) John Coughlan said: “75,000 Irish beef farmers eagerly anticipate the work of the Beef Taskforce and have placed their trust in those representing them.

“Any delays in progress risks returning farmers to the picket line.

“I am calling on the taskforce’s chair, Michael Dowling and Meat Industry Ireland leadership to swiftly establish the factual status of legal injunctions and to bring the necessary clarity so that these talks can proceed.

“We are days out from Brexit and have already lost valuable time on what was agreed weeks ago.”

PA

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