Cork Marts wants to close their Midleton and Mitchelstown premises by the end of the year, citing the need for major rationalisation, as livestock numbers going through the marts decline.
The closure of Midleton and Mitchelstown was first mooted four years ago, but it was only last week that the advisory committees of both marts were informed of the scheduling of closures.
Over five years, the number of cattle and calves sold at Midleton Mart has declined by 63% and sheep by 50%, while the decline at Mitchelstown is around 40%.
Nevertheless, the news that Midleton Mart is scheduled to close by the end of this year was greeted with shock by the advisory committee, said spokesman John Jeffery.
He said the board of Cork Marts promised two years ago that Midleton Mart would remain open until a new livestock centre would be ready at Rathcormac, on the Cork to Dublin road.
Now, the local advisory committee wants Midleton Mart kept open, and says farmers should not have to travel to Fermoy to sell their stock.
“So strong were the feelings of the committee that a vote of no confidence was passed in the board of Cork Marts by over 90% of members present,” he said.
A meeting will be held in Midleton Park Hotel on November 18 for farmers and the general public to discuss the future of the mart.
Cork Marts chief executive Sean O’Sullivan said it was a matter of regret to the board to have to implement this difficult decisions.
“But, equally, the decision was taken only after very detailed consideration of the commercial realities and the options open to us,” he said.
As part of its reorganisation plan, Cork Marts was recently granted planning permission by Cork County Council for the construction of a large state-of-the-art mart facility at Corrin, near Rathcormac. This permission is under appeal to An Bord Pleanala.
It had been hoped that the marts at Midleton and Mitchelstown could maintain a tenable level of business until the new facility at Corrin was built.
But Mr O’Sullivan said the stark and continuing decline in business at the sites has meant that the decision to close could no longer be avoided.
Midleton Town Council has given permission to Cork Marts for a major “mixed use” commercial and residential development on the mart site. However, at least one objection has been launched.
The group’s options for use of their Mitchelstown site will be considered in the months ahead.
Cork Marts said the Midleton development will comprise a hotel, retail mall, supermarket, leisureplex, residential and offices and there will be some 600 full and part-time jobs, when the development is completed.