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Farmers have begun to leave tractor protest in Dublin city centre

Traffic disruption was experienced today due to the ongoing protest.

Updated Nov 27th 2019, 3:23 PM

FARMERS IN DUBLIN city centre have begun to leave after a tractor demonstration near the Dáil that had been ongoing since yesterday. 

Many of the people involved in the protest have begun to exit in their vehicles after closing down a number of roads in the south of the city centre. Gardaí have said it could be some time before these roads are reopened. 

Shortly after 7.15am this morning, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed came out to address the several dozen protesters at the corner of Kildare Street.

Tweet by @Céimin Burke Source: Céimin Burke/Twitter

The protesters accused Creed of letting Irish farmers down, and demanded action on the price of beef. Many of them also urged the minister to take action to help end the injunctions against farmers from meat processors, barring them from protesting outside meat factories.

Speaking to reporters this morning, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Government doesn’t control the beef price. 

“None of the farming organisations are involved in this protest. So there’s no clear leadership and it is difficult to engage with them,” he said. 

“We’re all very aware that beef farmers had a very bad time in the last couple of months and last couple of years. The beef price is below the cost of production and that isn’t sustainable for anyone.

“But we also need to be honest with the farmers as well. There are some things that the Government controls and some things that the government doesn’t and the beef price isn’t one of them.”

Protesters said they wouldn’t cease the protest until the minister took action to address their concerns. It’s understood a number of them are having a meeting with the minister this morning. 

Minister Creed met with a delegation of five representatives in the Department of Agriculture this afternoon. 

Chairperson of the Independent Farmers of Ireland (IFoI) Michael Fitzpatrick told TheJournal.ie the protesters’ demands are clear. 

“Going forward the two injunctions have to be lifted, the task force has to get up and go on and the price of beef has to increase,” he said. 

Farmers also wanted an apology from Creed over comments he made in a committee meeting yesterday. Creed said that senior management in beef producer company C&D Foods had “death threats issued against them, and their partners and families have been intimidated”.

The minister said this is an issues senior gardaí are aware of. Some farmers have argued this statement appeared to defend meat factor injunctions against farmers by mentioning alleged death threats.

Creed has said he didn’t make connections or allegations that the protesters or those who were served with injunctions who made the alleged threats. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke, one of the organisers behind the protest Daniel Long said that Creed’s statement yesterday does not add up with statements from the gardaí. 

A garda spokesperson said: “An Garda Síochána is aware of incidents of phone calls received by a person but neither an allegation or formal written complaint of a ‘death threat’ has been made.”

‘You’ve sold us out’

TheJournal.ie spoke to several of the protesters prior to the minister’s arrival this morning.

One said: “The ball is in their [government's] court. We don’t want to be here, we want to go home.”

That farmer said that the beef task force must be reconvened and the injunctions must be lifted.

Another said that farmers had been unfairly barricaded from protesting outside Leinster House.

“They handed out injunctions,” he said. “What other means have we got of putting our case forward. I’d say we’re the only group of people in Ireland that are not allowed protest in a peaceful fashion without some kind of repercussions down the line.”

In what was a surprising move, Creed came out to speak to the protesters and dozens converged at the barricades at the corner of Kildare Street.

“I have never refused to meet farming organisations,” Creed said, adding his schedule didn’t allow him to meet with them yesterday. “The normal route is not to blockade the city, and demand an Oireachtas meeting.”

He said an arrangement to meet with a representative last night “didn’t work out”. 

It’s understood the organisers of the protest had a letter for the minister but they weren’t present this morning. The letter was handed to the minister by farmers.

farmer protest day 2 211 copy Michael Creed addressing protesters. Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

One farmer told the minister: “The injunctions are a cloud hanging over farmers’ heads.”

Creed replied that he wasn’t the party taking the injunctions and it was a matter for the courts. There were frequent interruptions as individual farmers sought to ask the minister their own questions in testy exchanges. 

On the impediment to reconvening the beef task force, the minister told them: “If it was an easy thing, it would’ve been done long ago… we’re trying to get a solution [to the injunctions] to that, it’s not easy because people have been threatened.”

This comment provoked fury from farmers. “You’ve sold us out,” another shouted. 

Traffic disruptions

These closures are subject to change as the tractors have now left the area. 

The affected areas closed to traffic today include St Stephen’s Green, Stephen’s Green east and north along with Kildare Street and Dawson Street, AA Roadwatch said

Earlsfort Terrace is also closed, along with Leeson Street outbound, but traffic can currently use St Stephen’s Green south to travel from Leeson Street to Cuffe Street.

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The stretch of Kevin Street/Cuffe Street is closed to traffic heading towards Stephen’s Green.

Merrion Square south and east, along with Merrion St Upper are also closed.

Gardaí said last night that diversions would be in place to facilitate the flow of traffic.

Farmers from around Ireland travelled to the protest at Merrion Square in tractors and 4x4s yesterday afternoon, which led to gridlock in the city as streets were blocked off.

When asked about the disruption to people in Dublin this morning, one farmer said: “We’re sorry for them but we are disrupted going to work every day. They’re getting paid, we’re not.”

Another said: “We don’t want to disrupt the people of Dublin. This barricade is a symbol of what the establishment in this country thinks of us as a farming community.”

It’s expected that the protests will continue throughout this morning and into the afternoon, and may expand to other areas of Dublin. 

With reporting from Christina Finn, Adam Daly, Céimin Burke and Orla Dwyer. 

About the author:

Sean Murray

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