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Use of bully-boy tactics not a wise move – Fitzmaurice

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice believes that the decision by members of Meat Industry Ireland (MII) to resort to legal action in an effort to remove protests from their gates is “not a wise move”.

The representative for the Roscommon-Galway constituency was reacting to the statement issued by MII yesterday (Thursday, August 8).

Commenting on the matter, he said: “It was regrettable to see the statement issued by MII yesterday where it talks about taking legal recourse to remove farmers from the picket lines.

“If MII decides to go down this route it would, in my opinion, be one of the worst options to take.

“From visiting and observing a number of the peaceful protests over the last two weeks, they were ran very professionally by the Beef Plan Movement. Traffic was kept moving, despite crowds of a couple of hundred people regularly gathering in the evenings.

“In fairness to the group, anywhere protesters decided not to follow its pre-determined guidelines, the Beef Plan Movement stood down and walked away – which was very professional in my view.

“From talking to farmers at protests yesterday evening, MII’s statement outlining potential legal action seems to have only strengthened the resolve of the farmers on the picket lines.

“If MII wishes to persevere with this course of action against the Beef Plan Movement, we could be left in a situation where ordinary farmers – with no affiliation to any group – decide to maintain the protests.

“It could potentially end up where you could have a couple of hundred farmers on the picket line with no official direction. What would MII do then?

As well as this, Fitzmaurice reiterated the fact that there have been a number of incidents where the drivers of some lorries, jeeps and tractors have shown little or no regard for farmers in the manner and speed at which they approach the peaceful protest.

The independent TD has called for calm and has urged MII to dismiss its calls for pre-conditions before entering negotiations with representatives for the Beef Plan Movement.

“At the end of the day, whether MII likes it or not, its members require farmers to produce a quality product. It is imperative that these producers can earn a sustainable living, otherwise the cornerstone on which the sector is built on will crumble.

“If farmers turn their backs on the sector and walk away, other stakeholders will fall too.

“If MII goes down the road of taking legal action, it will put a bad taste in the mouths of farmers right around this country.

“Farmers have plenty of work on their plates, they did not choose to peacefully protest just for the sake of it. They have been forced into this because their way of life and the survival of their profession into the future is genuinely threatened.

“I believe that the use of any bully-boy tactics will be unsuccessful as farmers themselves seem determined to pick up the mantle if legal action is taken against the Beef Plan Movement.

“Negotiations will be the only way in which this issue will be resolved, but they can only begin if there are no preconditions from either side,” he concluded.

Michael Fitzmaurice TD – 086-1914565