Number of IFA protesters set to grow at department HQ, but will they be let in?

The number of protesters at the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA) sit-in at the headquarters of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is set to grow today, July 6.

But there is a fear these protesters will not be allowed to enter the department building. It seems that an agreement has been reached to allow the protesters who occupied the building last night to come and go freely.

However, additional protesters who arrive during the course of today will most likely have to remain outside the building due to health and safety reasons.

A security officer is currently manning the single door used by department staff to enter the building on their way into work.

At approximately 7:00am this morning, the department’s Secretary General, Aidan O’Driscoll, met with the IFA protesters in an attempt to persuade them to stand down.

However, the two sides were unable to come to a satisfactory agreement, meaning an end to the protest is not yet in sight.

IFA representatives are adamant that they will not accept a rumoured offer of a maximum payment of €5,000 per farmer under the proposed tillage crisis fund, which is set to compensate farmers who suffered serious crop losses last year.

The department has been quick to explain that the final terms and conditions, as well as details regarding an application process for such a scheme, are yet to be finalised and published.

The delegation at the sit-in includes the IFA’s Grain Committee Chairman, Liam Dunne, alongside committee members Peter Lynch (Donegal), James Hill (Wicklow) and Kieran McEvoy (Laois).

IFA members around the country have been called on to come and support the protest at the department’s headquarters in Dublin, which is located close to the front gates of Leinster House.

Last night, a number of Fianna Fail and Independent TDs dropped in to the department building to speak with the IFA delegation.

However, there has been very little communication or interaction with any Fine Gael political representative as of early this morning – including the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

Last night’s protesters were joined by three department staff and one member of An Garda Siochana.