Fianna Fáil TDs have urged Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to work with Sinn Féin to increase the live cattle trade from north to south.
In last week’s Dail debate on the beef price crisis, Louth Fianna Fáil TD Seamus Kirk urged Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney — who missed the debate due to his trade trip to the US — to negotiate with his British and Northern Ireland counterparts.
Mr Kirk said: “Northern Ireland has a Sinn Féin minister of agriculture and rural development in Stormont. There is a clear opportunity for our minister and his counterpart in Northern Ireland to develop an all-island industry.”
Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív said: “It is amazing that, with a Sinn Féin minister in Northern Ireland, it has proved impossible to resolve the issue of nomad cattle. It is amazing that we cannot have weanlings brought from the west to the north east of Ireland and that there is a huge border difficulty with labelling in that transaction.”
However, Tom Hayes, the minister of state for agriculture, said: “We are in ongoing dialogue with our Northern Ireland counterpart, Ms Michelle O’Neill. We will meet her tomorrow morning if it will help. The reality is that the issues are difficult to deal with.”
Fine Gael Wicklow TD Andrew Doyle called on Sinn Féin to urge the Northern minister to “get proactive” with the Irish Government on encouraging live exports to the North.
Galway West Fine Gael TD Seán Kyne also called for a new “Island of Ireland” label to account for cattle born in the South that are reared and fattened in the North.
However, government chief whip Paul Kehoe, on behalf of Mr Coveney, said UK retailers have a preference for animals born, reared, and slaughtered either in Ireland or the UK, and there are no barriers to the trading of live cattle to Northern Ireland or Britain.
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