Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Marc Mac Sharry has called for greater supports for the Agri-sector in the North West region following British threats to Irish beef imports. Deputy Mac Sharry was commenting on foot of reports that the UK plan to open their market to South American beef in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Deputy Mac Sharry said: “The UK is Ireland’s largest export destination for agri-food products with exports valued at €5.2 billion in 2017. If the British go ahead with their plan to open their markets to South American beef they would wipe out their own beef sector as well. Notwithstanding the damage to the Irish sector the British strategy would be self-sabotage.

“This would be nothing short of a catastrophe for the beef industry on both islands and would have a devastating effect on farmers in Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon and Donegal.

“Minister Creed must fulfill his commitment that money would be available to protect those in our biggest indigenous sector. Grants should be made available now in advance of Brexit to allow those in the sector to prepare.

“There are 35 days until the UK is scheduled to leave the EU and at this juncture the risk of a no deal Brexit is a very real possibility. If this comes to pass and Irish beef is forced to compete in the UK market against cheaper imports from other countries thousands of jobs will be lost in both islands.

“Every effort must be made to safeguard this industry and the hundreds of thousands of people employed in it, both directly and indirectly. We are neglected by the government in the North West region and are most at risk from the consequences of a no deal Brexit.

“I am calling on the Government to ensure that sufficient contingency plans, including a financial aid package, are in place to insulate our beef and agri-food industry in as much as feasibly possible from the fall out of Brexit,” concluded Deputy Mac Sharry.