Allen defends role played by local food markets

IRISH EXAMINER food writer Darina Allen told the High Court yesterday she felt very strongly about the importance of local food markets in this country and believed they played a role in rural development.

She was giving evidence on the second day of a case in which the proprietor of a business that sells specialist food at casual markets nationwide is seeking an order restraining Kilkenny Borough Council from interfering with or disturbing his right to sell goods in the city.

Toby Simmonds, aged 34, of Toonsbridge, Macroom, Co Cork, who sells olives and Mediterranean style foods both directly and wholesale has brought the case because he claims he has the right to trade in the town. Mr Simmonds is also seeking a number of declarations from the court that he is entitled to sell his wares at a market in Kilkenny; that the council are not allowed to interfere with the market; and that the provisions of the Casual Trading Act do no apply to the market in Kilkenny.

The council are opposing Mr Simmond’s action and their counsel, David Kennedy SC, told the court 35 traders were happy to pay €5 a week in the existing market which operates every Thursday, but Mr Simmonds wanted to trade at a location in Kilkenny called the “Parade” and he is not entitled to trade there.

Ms Allen who runs Ballymaloe Cookery School and is also a market trader said these markets operate throughout Europe. She was aware that many farmers were having difficulty in Ireland earning a living and staying on the land and it seemed to her that this was a solution for some farmers who believe that by selling directly to the public they would get a full price for their produce enabling them to earn a better living.

She said there was a deep craving among many people to find natural food produce locally and it was quite difficulty to do this.

Ms Allen said the market gave local people the opportunity to sell small quantities which the supermarkets were not set up to do. She felt the markets were also important from the point of view of rural development.

The hearing before Mr Justice Thomas Smyth resumes next Tuesday.

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