Minister claims Mercosur deal is 'disappointing' for Irish farmers

Minister claims Mercosur deal is 'disappointing' for Irish farmers

The proposed beef deal between the European Union and South American countries “is unsatisfactory” for Ireland, Minister Regina Doherty has told the Dáil.

Standing in for the Tánaiste at Leaders’ Questions, the Social Protection Minister said the Government believes the Mercosur deal as it stands is “disappointing” but it is a long way from being a finalised legal document.

Answering questions from Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary, Ms Doherty insisted she and the Government are on “team Ireland” and are seeking to limit the fallout and impact on the beef and poultry sector who would face increased competition from South American farmers.

The great fear is that they will be able to flood the EU market with cheaper, poorer quality meat at the expense of Irish meat, which is regarded as being of a high quality.

Mr Calleary pressed her to clarify her position as a Meath TD and asked her if she agreed with Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, who has promised to tear the deal apart, or did she agree with Business Minister Heather Humphreys who said the deal is “not all bad”.

She responded by saying all ministers are committed to ensuring Irish farmers are protected.

“She said this is an enormous deal not just about beef which would have huge benefits for Ireland but there are some difficulties,” she said.

She was also pressed by David Cullinane of Sinn Féin and Brendan Howlin about the proposed €10m pay deal for members of the Defence Forces.

Both Mr Cullinane and Mr Howlin said details of the deal leaked to the media are entirely inadequate.

Mr Howlin asked why the terms of reference given to the Pay Commission did not look at the issue of the entirety of pay levels.

Ms Doherty hit back saying it was staggering that a former minister for public expenditure would be saying such things which go against all of what he said when in office.

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