Independent TD Mattie McGrath has strongly condemned the inability of the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, to bring about a resolution to the ongoing beef crisis.

Deputy McGrath made the criticism as farmers continue to protest up to 20 processing plants as well as the major retail distribution hubs.

“We are at the point now where the Minister’s weak and ineffectual pleading has been shown for what it is; utterly useless. Farmers are voting with their feet when it comes to the Minister and they are totally ignoring him for one simple reason; they have lost all confidence in his capacity to effect or facilitate meaningful change for them,” said Deputy McGrath.

“Minister Creed made yet another statement in the last day or so saying that plants were now operating at 20% capacity and farmers needed to bear that in mind. This is from a Minister that is overseeing and supporting the introduction of the Mercosur deal that will wipe out almost all beef producing capacity within the state over the next few years,” he said.

“The Minister is also reported as saying that all sides in the beef dispute should reflect carefully on their position to avoid escalating the current confrontation,” said the Tipperary TD. “What does he think farmers have been doing over the last decade? They have done little else apart from ‘reflect’ on the catastrophic damage that has been handed out to them by a government that is quite clearly terrified of the clout of the major producers.”

Deputy McGrath said that farmers were being “systematically gamed by the industry” and there was “an absolute onus on the Minister and indeed the government to come out fighting for the welfare of its people.”

Farmers have complained that they have been refused entry to talks by the Department of Agriculture. “I know for a fact that 3 independent farmers from my own area went to try and attend the talks at the Department of Agriculture, and they were point blank denied entry,” Deputy McGrath commented. “This highlights the sham nature of the call to ‘dialogue’ and it must be exposed.”