Matt Carthy TD has criticised the Minister for Agriculture for failing to seek an accommodation for livestock buyers to permit attendance at marts on a restrictive basis.
The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture described as “naïve” Minister McConalogue’s position as to the consequences of mart closures.
Speaking during a debate with the minister, the Cavan-Monaghan TD raised the poor broadband connectivity in many rural communities.
He said that the current arrangements were actually leading to congregations outside of marts “possibly creating a greater Covid-19 risk”.
“Food production has rightly been deemed an essential service throughout the entire pandemic.”
“The one part of the food production system that has been severally curtailed is the only part that farmers have any control – the marts.”
Congregating in cars
Farmers, he stressed, understand that restrictions are necessary and ask only that marts be respected as a critical component of the food production system.
“Allowing marts to be open to some buyers with strict physical distancing measures is the most sensible and practical way of allowing sales to continue while protecting public health.”
“At present, buyers are congregating in cars and gathering around laptops without social distancing so they can assist each other with the online purchasing process.”
“I am, therefore, appealing again to the Minister to represent Irish farmers and to show some common sense in this situation.”
“He needs to stop being naïve and realise that the current position is causing hardship and frustration among mart-goers and managements,” he concluded.