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Dublin: 12 °C Saturday 30 May, 2020
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It cost almost €70,000 to police the three winter tractor protests

Over half of that was spent on barriers to block tractors from gaining access to Kildare Street, where Leinster House is located.

Gardaí watch as a line of tractors are stuck at Dublin Port during their January protest.
Gardaí watch as a line of tractors are stuck at Dublin Port during their January protest.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

IT COST CLOSE to €70,000 to police the three winter tractor protests organised by farmers, according to Freedom of Information (FOI) documents.

Farmers have been protesting about the poor pay they receive for their work: according to Bord Bia Irish farmers get 24 cent less per kg of beef than the EU average, and 50 cent less than farmers in the UK.

This is despite Irish beef being a premium product, because of the way that cattle are reared and fed (the only grass-fed cattle in the world are from Ireland and New Zealand). But many farmers claim that they only break even at the moment, with some claiming they’re making a loss because of this price gap.

There have been three farmers protests over the winter months: one on 26 November, another on 17 December, and a third on 15-16 January.

The overnight protest in January was the largest of all the protests, not only because it remained on the busy streets of Stephen’s Green overnight, but because it also included a fleet of tractors driving along the M50 during rush hour at 5 km/h.

Documents released to TheJournal.ie under an FOI request show that traffic management to cover all three protests cost €3,745.50; with a further €21,438.90 for barriers.

Each protest incurred additional costs for more barriers however; and at least one of each of the protests had costs relating to traffic management, meals, and hiring equipment.

For the tractor protest on 26 November, an extra €12,632.10 was spent on more barriers. No catering or hiring costs were incurred.

A protest on 17 December incurred traffic management costs for diversions Stephen’s Green of €2,951. No catering or hiring costs were incurred either.

tractor 609 Tractors head out of the Port Tunnel towards the M50 Motorway, causing traffic chaos. Source: Sam Boal

On the two-day tractor protest in January, the largest of all three protests, €202.96 was spent on the hiring of equipment, €690 was spent on meals, and €26,632.57 was spent on barriers.

That totals 68,293.03, based on the invoices included to date (the request was submitted on 17 January).

Although Garda overtime was also requested as part of the FOI request, these were not granted. The reason given for this was there was no specific cost centre established for the farming protests, and overtime for gardaí working at the protest was processed with other overtime requests.

Daniel Long of the Individual Farmers of Ireland said that no more protests were planned for Dublin “in the near future”, and that the decision to use tractors to protest was not one taken lightly.

“Nobody is asking for a handout, they’re asking for a fair price,” Long said.

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