'We don’t want to be branded as thugs': Farmers call on Minister to apologise for Dáil remarks

'We don’t want to be branded as thugs': Farmers call on Minister to apologise for Dáil remarks
Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

By Vivienne Clarke

Latest: Fine Gael councillor Padraig Brady, who is subject to an injunction by C&D Foods, has acknowledged that a complaint was lodged with the Garda Pulse system about threats to the management of the company.

However, he said that no report or statement was subsequently made and he called on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to correct the Dáil record after he said on Tuesday that death threats had been received by senior management in a meat company where an injunction against blockading farmers is still in place.

“I hope the Minister forces C&D to make a statement to follow up and to bring the people making these statement to justice,” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Séan O’Rourke.

“I want to make it completely clear that I did not make any death threat and would condemn any such threats.

“We don’t want to be branded as thugs.”

On the same programme one of the organisers of the blockade, Daniel Long, said that the Minister’s statement was “a stumbling block” as gardaí had said that there was no evidence of a death threat and farmers were aggrieved.

Names were being tarnished, he added.

“The Minister needs to go in and correct the record of the Dáil and then everybody will go home. It’s in everybody’s interests to do that.”

Mr Long said he had been part of the group that met with the Minister briefly in the lobby of the Department of Agriculture this morning.

“I implored him that this (death threat) wasn’t true. That seems to be a major stumbling block, but he was evasive.”

Another protestor Jolene Smith said that if the Minister does not meet a deadline of December 15 for beef talks “then the city will be locked down,” she warned.

She also said she had asked the Minister to have the injunctions against Padraig Brady and Colm Leonard lifted, but the Minster said that his hands were tied.

“Farmers are very angry and are calling for an apology for likening us to the thugs who beat up Kevin Lunney. We want an apology.

"The Minister is making false statements. He needs to retract that statement. He lied to the Dáil.”

Fianna Fáil’s agriculture spokesperson Charlie McConalogue said the Minister needs to explain the background as it was not “fully clear” what he meant.

Farmers continue tractor protest despite sit-down meeting with Creed

Minister Michael Creed. Picture: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
Minister Michael Creed. Picture: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Update 10.40am: Farmers are refusing to leave the St Stephens Green area of Dublin City Centre.

The Agriculture Minister came to the picket line early this morning and also sat down with five of the farmers at the Department in the last hour.

Farmers had said they would remove the tractors that are causing the traffic chaos if the Minister came to meet with them but are unhappy with the outcome of the meetings.

Farmers now want the Minister to apologise for comments he made in the Dáil yesterday about the protests.

"They want an apology for the statement that was brought out yesterday," said Padraig Brady who is one of the farmers who met with Minister Creed.

"Now it has been portrayed that these are thugs and this is what has people revved up here.

"They don't feel that they are thugs. They feel that they had to come to Dublin."

IFA presidential candidate John Coughlan said this morning that the protest is a demonstration of the frustration and fear felt by farming families around the country.

"While the manner in which these frustrations are being expressed can be questioned, the motivations behind them are understandable," said Mr Coughlan.

"What beef farmers have now is a toothless Taskforce. It failed to read the mood of farm families.

"Since its abandoned first meeting, it has failed to get the players back in the room.

"The Government is hiding behind a bureaucratic blanket, playing right into the hands of meat processors who are only too keen to capitalise on delays as an excuse to keep prices low."

Farmers say they have no plans to end protest after speaking with Micheal Creed

Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie
Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Update 9.25am: The farmers protesting in the city had said they would leave once Minister Creed met with them.

However they now say they have no plans to move.

One farmer said that Mr Creed did not answer any questions that were put to him.

"He said that he was looking into it and he was going to do this and that.

"The people on the ground are just going to have to stay here until they get results."

Another man said that Mr Creed was asked to come out and speak with them last night but he did not speak with them until this morning when some farmers were still asleep in their tractors.

It is believed the protesters have called for more farmers from across the country to take part while there has also been fears over plans to cause disruption to the M50.

Gardaí say that Dawson St, Molesworth St, Kildare St and routes around St Stephen's Green and Merrion Square are closed to traffic.

South Circular Rd, Earlsfort Terrace, Adelaide Road and Leeson St are also closed, with diversions in place.

Gardaí have placed a barricade on Kildare Street preventing vehicles from entering.

Dublin Bus have advised passengers to expect delays on all routes this morning.

Michael Creed has met with protesting farmers as commuter chaos continues

Michael Creed speaks with farmers behind a security barrier at Kildare Street this morning. Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie
Michael Creed speaks with farmers behind a security barrier at Kildare Street this morning. Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Update 8.20am: The Minister for Agriculture has met with farmers at the picket line on Kildare Street.

Part of the city has been blocked off since yesterday after dozens of tractors were parked around St Stephens Green.

Farmers are furious with Minister Michael Creed after he stated in the Dáil yesterday that death threats were made against management at C&D foods in Longford during the beef crisis protests.

Farmers say no such threats were made against the factory which has yet to lift injunctions against two farmers that resulted from the beef crisis blockades.

Minister Creed told farmers he was trying to get the taskforce up and running.

He said that there were a number of issues impeding the reconvening of the taskforce.

"We are trying to work to get a solution to that but it is not easy because people have been threatened and that's not an easy thing," said Minister Creed.

Commuters continue to face major traffic disruptions in the city centre.

Merrion Square South, St Stephen's Green East, Kildare Street and Merrion Street Upper are all closed to traffic until further notice.

Due to the closure of Kildare Street and Molesworth Street, a number of Dublin Bus routes have been diverted.

Full details of the diversions can be found here.

Red and Green Luas services are operating as normal.

Further traffic disruption as roads close due to farmers' protest in Dublin

Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Additional reporting by Daniel McConnell

Update 6.45am A protest by farmers is continuing outside the Dáil this morning.

The group say they are highlighting the challenges in the sector and they won't leave until the Agriculture Minister meets them.

Yesterday saw traffic chaos in the area as over 100 tractors blocked routes and further disruption is likely today as more are understood to be arriving.

Gardaí say that road closures remain in effect around Dublin City Centre this morning due to a protest by farmers.

Merrion Square South, St Stephen's Green East, Kildare Street and Merrion Street Upper are all closed to traffic until further notice.

"There are a number of closures in place in the south city centre including around Stephen's Green," said Ruth Jephson, Deputy Editor with AA Roadwatch.

"Stephen's Green east and north are closed along with Kildare Street and Dawson Street.

"Earlsfort Terrace is closed along with Leeson Street outbound but traffic can currently use St Stephen's Green south to go from Leeson Street inbound on to Cuffe Street.

"However, if you are heading the other way, the Kevin Street and Cuffe Street stretch is closed for those heading towards Stephen's Green.

"Elsewhere, Merrion Square south, east and upper are all closed."

Due to the closure of Kildare Street and Molesworth Street, a number of Dublin Bus routes have been diverted.

Full details of the diversions can be found here.

Red and Green Luas services are operating as normal.

Meanwhile, there was a large Garda presence outside one of the Leinster House exits last night as a tractor was used to block staff from leaving.

Edmund Graham, from the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association, which is not involved in the protest, says a demonstration was "inevitable" given the hardships facing farmers.

"After a summer of discontent at the meat factories, a deal was reached," said Mr Graham.

"The most important part of the deal was the taskforce and it hasn't been set up because one of the players in the meat industry refuses to lift two injunctions and this is holding up the whole show.

"They just won't engage on price with the farmers on the ground."

Yesterday, some fraught exchanges were witnessed between protesters and politicians at the top of Kildare Street by the Shelbourne Hotel, but generally the mood was friendly.

An earlier agreement between protest leaders and gardaí to allow up to 100 tractors drive down past the Dáil on the proviso they not stop collapsed, amid angry scenes.

Opposition politicians Mattie McGrath, Michael Fitzmaurice and Michael Collins sought to secure a meeting with Mr Creed in a bid to end the protest but their efforts came to nothing.

The protest had commenced at Merrion Square but without agreement the farmers in their tractors moved in a convoy towards Kildare Street until the point where they were blocked by gardaí.

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