IFA signs open letter to government over ‘damage’ from Covid restrictions

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is among a number of groups and companies that have signed an open letter to the government warning of the damage to the economy that would ensue from further Covid-19 restrictions.

The letter was signed by IFA president Tim Cullinan, as well as representatives from 13 trade associations and 436 individual businesses.

The letter states that the signatories are “increasingly concerned that the current Irish response is centred on restricting economic activity to a much greater extent than any other country in Europe”.

The letter is co-signed by 216 hotels; 115 pubs and bars; 54 companies in the events sector or that supply the drinks and hospitality sector; 20 alcoholic drinks suppliers; 31 food and non-drinks suppliers; and 13 trade associations on behalf of all their members.

Aside from Cullinan, the letter was also signed by Thomas McKeown, the IFA’s potato chairperson; Paul Brophy, the association’s horticulture chairperson; and Mark Brown; the grain chairperson.

The letter argues that “the consequences of overly restrictive measures will reach deep into the Irish economy”.

“The current Irish approach risks not just short term, but long-lasting and irreparable damage to the economy and Irish society. It impacts Irish farmers due to the knock-on impact of a fall in demand on the entire supply chain,” a joint statement from the signatories said.

The letter urges the government to look to best practice internationally and to countries that have managed to keep their ‘experience economy’ sector open while at the same time taking clear and targeted approaches to controlling the spread of the disease in communities.

The letter instead argues for “a much more targeted set of measures and supports for the sectors most impacted by Covid and its restrictions”.

Commenting on the letter, Cullinan said: “The government’s current approach of targeting the tourism and hospitality industry with overly restrictive measures has had a major impact in Ireland’s farming industry. This illustrates the far-reaching consequences of these decisions, impacting not only the businesses that have to close, but also the wider supply chain.

“We are calling on the government to consider a more proportionate approach,” the IFA president added.