‘Violence is never justified’: Taoiseach ‘disappointed’ by scenes at Ag House

The Irish Government is “very keen to see the Beef Market Taskforce meeting” and being allowed to do its job improving the beef sector for everyone in it, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

The Taoiseach outlined his disappointment with the angry scenes witnessed outside Agriculture House on Monday, October 14, which led to the adjournment of the taskforce before its first meeting, highlighting that “aggression and violence are never justified”.

Addressing attendees at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Open Policy Debate on Ireland’s Agri-Food Strategy to 2030, the Taoiseach said:

“I think we’re all conscious of the difficulties that solely beef farmers face; being paid less than the cost of production for what they produce.

But I think there is a way forward; the agreement brokered by Minister Creed is a good one.

“The establishment of Producer Organisations (PO) I think will give farmers the bargaining power that they haven’t had before – particularly when it comes to beef prices and the beef industry, and I’d really like to see the taskforce getting a chance to work and to do its job.

“And that’s why I was very disappointed to see the scenes on TV the other day of people being impeded from doing their day’s work, being jostled outside that building.”

Outlining that he does not believe that such a path is the way to go forward, Varadkar stressed: “Aggression and violence are never justified and we should never stop people trying to go about their daily work; and it’s definitely not the way forward.

We’re very keen to see the beef taskforce meeting, being allowed to do its work and get busy on improving the sector and improving the industry for everyone who’s involved in it; both producers, factories and farmers as well.

Turning to the broader picture, Varadkar said: “We’re very keen as a Government to work with you on all the challenges we currently face and to help the sector to prosper and thrive.

“As you know in the Budget 2020 announced last week, we allocated €1.6 billion to the Department of Agriculture – an increase of €50 million on last year, and that doesn’t include the no-deal package or the low-cost loans for the sector or any additional support we may receive from the European Union. That’s in addition to all of that.

“We do that because your industry is our most important industry by far,” the Taoiseach concluded.