Beef agreement delays ‘risk new protests’ – Carthy

The delays to the implementation of the Irish Beef Sector Agreement are risking a renewed wave of protests, according to one Irish MEP.

Matt Carthy, an MEP for the Midlands-North West, called on Minister Michael Creed to speak with members of the Beef Market Taskforce to resolve outstanding issues and “clear the way” for a new meeting.

Carthy, a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, commented: “The agreement was signed on September 15 and the farming community cautiously welcomed it.

However, any initial optimism has been quashed by a lack of implementation of a number of points of the agreement.

“Issues such as penalties and arbitrary quality rules have undermined farmers’ margins and have resulted in family farmers often selling to factories at a loss. The work of the beef taskforce is core to addressing the imbalances in the sector that has put thousands of Irish farmers in this precarious position,” the Sinn Féin MEP argued.

Carthy was also critical of the fact that injunctions against protesters remained in place, saying: “The remaining injunctions have delayed the reconvening of the beef taskforce and paralysed implementation of the beef agreement.”

He referred to the minister as the “guarantor” of the beef sector agreement, and said it was “imperative” that Minister Creed “move now to break the deadlock”.

If this agreement is allowed to collapse, due to bad faith by the factories and Government inaction, we will see the prospect of new picket lines emerging.

“Words of condemnation from the minister at that point will count for little if he continues to sit on his hands during this crucial period,” Carthy claimed.

The MEP concluded his remarks by saying: “The Government’s inept approach to date has jeopardised the future of family farms and the rural communities that depend on them, and is opening up the vista of a new series of protests.”