‘Disgusting that legal action was taken against someone trying to sell the deal’

Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice told Dáil proceedings earlier this week that “it was disgusting” to think that one of the factories had instigated legal action against an individual who had been endeavouring “to sell the minister’s deal” to farmers on the picket line.

Fitzmaurice was speaking after the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, addressed the Dáil on the new agreement in respect of beef – that was put on the table last Sunday, September 15, following marathon discussions over the weekend.

The Roscommon/Galway TD pointed to how the minister had asked representatives from the farming organisations to go out and sell the deal to protesting farmers, in the first instance, yet an individual who had done just that – was now the subject of legal proceedings.

‘The spirit of partnership’

He said it was “very disappointing” and a far cry from “the spirit of partnership”.

That is not the spirit of partnership – it is disgusting to think that one of the factories would do this.

He continued: “There is another issue in solving this problem; I went to a place on Sunday evening and the deal was not going down well.

“The farmers acknowledged that there were good parts in it but the one sticking point – at the moment – is the base price.

“Everybody knows that this is the issue – whether one is a producer with 500 or 600 cattle or a producer organisation group with sheep – let us not hide from it or duck it. Let us be honest and open.”

‘Being part of something bigger’

Fitzmaurice went on to say that there is between 10c and 15c to be gained by being part of a producer organisation.

The organisation, he added, can supply the commodity that is required.

I spoke to some of the sheep groups and they told me how they operate and what is given.

He continued: “It is sad – if Meat Industry Ireland (MII) recognised the producer organisation, progress could be made overnight.

“I ask the minister to go back to MII and talk to Mr. Healy who said that €3.60 was available as the base price.

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“The base price given is €3.45; if the producers are giving €3.60, let Mr. Healy confirm that.

Are the producers being stopped from paying this price by certain individuals in the meat industry?

“This matter can move on; if the producer organisations are recognised by all the meat processors, and the deal that is generally done is agreed, it can be solved.

“No one is asking for anything over and above that – there is nothing underhand or overhead.

“This is the way it is done throughout the rest of Europe. Indeed, there is precedent for it in Ireland. This issue can be solved.”