Farmers confront Taoiseach outside Cork City Hall amidst Brexit fears

Farmers confront Taoiseach outside Cork City Hall amidst Brexit fears
IFA president Joe Healy confronts the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about Brexit losses at a farmers protest outside the cabinet meeting in Cork today.Picture. John Allen

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) held the demonstration to stress to the government that "now is a time for action" as they ask for more support as Brexit continues to have a knock on effect to their incomes.

More than 200 IFA members attended the demonstration, with president Joe Healy confronting the Taoiseach upon his arrival, telling Mr Varadkar: "We need answers today. We need a clear message coming from this meeting today, farmers are depending on it."

Protestors had placards that read "Minister Creeds 'wait and see' NOT an option" and "€100m Brexit losses breaking beef farmers", while others circled around City Hall in tractors and even a prize-winning Aberdeen Angus bull, which weighs over a tonne was marched up and down Angelsea Street.

The cabinet meeting was moved from Blackrock Castle to City Hall, which IFA members feel was done in an attempt to disrupt their plans to protest. 

Chair of IFA's North Cork branch, Ann Baker told The Echo that the turnout shows how important the matter is and if no solution is found, it may spell the end for Ireland's beef industry.

"The presence here today, especially with the move from Blackrock into the city centre, it was obvious they were trying to upset our plans but I think that the large turnout here today is an indication of how passionate people feel about the whole issue and that it clearly needs to be rectified as soon as possible otherwise there won’t be a beef industry in Ireland if this continues."

Beef farmers have stated that they have made a loss of over €100 million due to the impact Brexit has had on the cost of beef since the UK decided to leave the EU almost three years ago.

Several members of the IFA from Cork branches spoke about how Brexit has put beef farmers on their knees as they struggle to cope without the support they need. 

IFA President Joe Healy, summed up in a blunt fashion that as it stands, Brexit is financially breaking farmers.

"Theresa May famously said that 'Brexit means Brexit', well to Irish farmers Brexit means bust. Irish farmers have been loyal to the EU, now it is well time for the EU to be loyal to Irish farmers", Mr Healy said.

While the Taoiseach has said that farmers are already receiving more subsidiaries than any other sector, he acknowledged that more needs to be done.

Farmers were told to keep hold of their banners and their placards because as long as they go without aid from the government or backing from the EU, they will continue to demonstrate. 

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