Demands made for grant aid to support ‘economic and social hubs’

Calls for the provision of grant aid to improve safety and efficiency in marts have been made by a Co. Leitrim-based general election candidate.

Sligo-Leitrim constituency candidate, Shane Ellis, has said the establishment of a grant is needed to support safety improvements to mart infrastructure.

The Fianna Fail candidate has said that the viability of some smaller marts is “in doubt” as they cannot finance the safety measures needed to secure their insurance.

Ellis said: “The importance of safety measures cannot be overestimated, but the reality for many smaller marts is that they simply don’t have the funds to carry out essential works.

They are being hit with bills from every angle – with spiraling insurance costs exacerbating the situation.

Continuing, he explained that in some rural towns and villages, “the mart is the economic and social hub” and added that it is where farmers meet each other to chat, and where business is done.

However, in recent years marts have seen their overheads increase, particularly with regard to insurance.

He believes that supports which can be approved for health and safety measures would “provide a welcome relief”.

Ellis drew attention to a grant scheme which was introduced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in 2008 for livestock marts to improve efficiency and enhance quality and food safety.

“The precedent exists so I am calling on the Minister for Agriculture to consider a similar scheme which could be used to improve health and safety issues in marts.”

Concluding, Ellis stressed: “Minister Creed needs to do more to secure the future of our marts. These provide important and transparent sales platforms for farmers and much needed employment in rural communities.”