Fianna Fáil General Election Candidate and Councillor for Longford, Joe Flaherty, has said Minister Creed’s hands-off approach is not working and that the current crisis in the beef sector will only get worse unless he ups his involvement.

Councillor Flaherty said it was disingenuous for some elected representatives to say that farmers must call off their protests to enter talks when the Minister himself has been found severely lacking.

He explained, “Minister Creed must step-up and provide much stronger leadership. So far, he has overseen the breakdown of talks and despite his invitation to stakeholders to speak with him today, he must go further in ensuring the talks lead to a resolution.

“What’s clear for all to see is that the situation as it stands cannot be allowed to continue. Farmers are at their wits end and thousands of workers have been laid off across the country pending a breakthrough.

“The Minister needs to get tough, he needs to make it clear to Meat Industry Ireland (MII) that they have to get back around the table and try to resolve this issue. Retailers must also be part of any discussions, which bizarrely the Minster has not required thus far.

“Farmers don’t want to be on any picket line, they are there because they have no other option. Base beef prices are on the floor and there is no end in sight to the hardship given the threats posed by Brexit. They simply don’t see a future for their livelihoods.

“Any talks must comprehensively address issues such as the 30-month rule, 4 movement rule and the 70-day residency requirement.

“The Minister must ensure transparency is brought to the market and farmers need to be able to get a fair living out of their industry”, he concluded.