Ongoing pressure on price hitting winter finishers

‘Processors showing a complete lack of respect for efforts of producers.’

Sligo News File

Beef plants have come under file over, it’s claimed, “putting downward pressure on prices this week.”

Beef chairman of the ICSA Edmond Phelan said processors were

Edmond Phelan, Chairman, ICSA National Beef Committee.

showing “a complete lack of respect for the efforts of producers who are left in an increasingly vulnerable position as far as future viability goes.

“At the very minimum we need another 20c/kg to keep things going.

“Winter finishers also need a winter bonus, in line with the winter milk bonus, to cover the huge costs involved.”

Stating that if factories are serious about winter finishing, he said “there has to be an incentive to feed cattle over a long winter.

“This year in particular has proven particularly expensive so far with cattle being housed early and the looming fodder crisis means that all bought-in feed will be expensive for the rest of the winter period.

“We also see that demand for beef across Europe is improving and that UK production levels are slipping.

“Winter finishing is not viable with falling prices especially when market conditions are favourable for paying a better price at this time.

“We know there is no lack of profitability in the beef processing sector,” he added

Up Up and Away, Taoiseach and Ministers to fly out for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations abroad.

The announcement comes just as Dail is resuming after long Christmas break.

Oireachtas out again for Easter.

Sligo News File

Varadkar the Taoiseach and ministers are to take off for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations across the world.

The announcement has come just as the Dail is getting back after the long Christmas break. The Oireachtas will be closing again for Easter.

Listed to travel for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities are Varadkar, Ring, Humphreys, Stanton, D’Arcy and Attorney General Wolfe, all destined for the United States. Naughton and O’Donovan (Patrick) will spend St. Patrick’s Day in Canada. Joe McHugh is down for a visit to Brazil, Donohoe is going to Argentina, Moran, Kenya, Griffin, USA and Mexico, Kehoe, Lebanon and Cyprus, while housing Minister Murphy is to take in Korea and Japan.

Coveney is to leave for China and Hong Kong, Daly, Australia and New Zealand, Flanagan Australia, Mary O’Connor UAE and Oman, Doyle, Vietnam and Phelan, Singapore. Dail chairman O’Fearghail is included for Croatia, Senate Chairman O’Donavan (Denis) Slovenia & Bosnia Herzegovina, McEntee, Austria and Slovakia, Kyne, Switzerland, Byrne, Denmark and Finland, Cannon, Czech Republic, and English, Poland.

Harris is set to travel to the Netherlands and Belgium, Bruton, Germany, Madigan, Norway and Sweden, Zappone, Italy, Doherty, France, Creed and Halligan, UK, and Breen, Scotland.

Ross is remaining in Ireland.

It’s reckoned visits to date have cost taxpayers around a million euro.

Members of local councils are also set to travel for the Patrick’s Day celebrations abroad.

Meanwhile, thousands of families in Ireland are left without homes; children are being crammed into temporary accommodation, closure of commercial outlets in the North West is at record levels, businesses locally are struggling, and jobs are as scarce as hen’s teeth.

An existing Sligo manufacturing outfit has reportedly announced plans to create 33 jobs annually over the next three years, however, government assistance to the development of new industrial infrastructure is virtually non-existent.

Despite the presence of no fewer than four TDs in the Sligo-Leitrim constituency, “delivery” for the area is light on the ground. The four TDs are Martin Kenny, Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail spokesman on business and employment, Eamon Scanlon, the party’s Sligo-based TD Marc MacSharry and Fine Gael TD and party’s assistant whip Tony McLoughlin.

Some companies are said to be planning on leaving the North West, further slashing the availability of employment in the area.

In the Midlands, the IDA has come under fire with a TD for the area branding the efforts of the agency “especially in counties Westmeath and Longford” as “abysmal, shambolic and disappointing, to say the least.”

Deputy Willie Penrose said that in 2017, “only 2% of jobs related to foreign direct investment were located in the Midlands, which also experienced the smallest increase in IDA Ireland supported jobs in the year. He noted, “the figure appears to worsen every year.”

Fianna Fail has committed to backing the Government, and to not bringing it down in confidence motions or objecting to reshuffles.

ICSA ‘disappointment’ over Government inaction on fodder transport subsidy

No comittment  on aid for meal vouchers or transport of straw.

Sligo News File.

The absence of a “conclusive announcement” on a transport subsidy for fodder has been described as “a disappointment.”

Gabriel Gilmartin,
Chairman, Sligo ICSA

Sligo Chairman of the ICSA Gabriel Gilmartin said that “despite recent soundings to the contrary, regrettably no announcement on a transport subsidy was forthcoming today.”

Commenting following a meeting of the Fodder Action Group in Sligo this afternoon, he also spoke of his disappointment “that no concession on the provision of meal vouchers was forthcoming either.

“ICSA is seeking meal vouchers as they are a critical component in alleviating the crisis. ICSA is arguing that meal vouchers can offer a better value solution than transporting fodder across the country at huge cost. These would have to be in the order of €40 per tonne and must be central to any solution.”

He said there was further concern with indications from Department officials present at the meeting that the transport of straw wouldn’t be subsidised, something which has
“compounded the difficulties.”

The ICSA will, however, continue to press for transport subsidies for straw as well as hay and silage as a matter of urgency,” he added

Sugar beet ‘worth of revival’ – Kent

‘Badly missed as a useful break crop.’

Sligo News File.

ICSA president Patrick Kent has said plans by the Beet Ireland group to revive the sugar beet sector in Ireland “are worthy of careful consideration by tillage farmers” and the Government should look at helping “in every way possible.

He said:

Patrick Kent,
President ICSA

“The loss of sugar beet was a huge blow to the tillage sector and its effects are still evident to this day. Price per ton will be a critical issue to farmers but the potential to build a sustainable business for the long term is key.

“The growing demand for sugar is obviously a central consideration but modern beet processing provides many opportunities for diversified by-products. This would also be beneficial to the livestock sector with the ready availability of beet pulp nuts which have traditionally been a valued component of cattle rations.

“Sugar beet has been badly missed as a useful break crop. Tillage farmers are well aware of the need for crop rotation, but it is also a requirement for the CAP greening payment. Without sugar beet, the options for crop rotation are much more limited and make less sense in terms of soil management. It is also worth noting that modern
varieties of sugar beet are improving all the time in terms of yield. While current prices in the UK look weak, longer term it is very difficult to say where that market is going given Brexit uncertainty.

“However, a more significant factor may be the future of EU renewable energy policy. Negotiations around the RED II directive are moving into a critical phase at the EU parliament plenary session in the coming week (January 15) and it is vital that the Irish government and Irish MEPs support more not less biofuels in order to deliver the decarbonising of transport and as a way of supporting EU farmers.

“Another factor will be the blending rate for biofuels at a member state level. The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment is considering increasing the biofuel obligation rate from the current 8% and this, along with decisions in other member states, will potentially increase the demand for biofuels if the right call is made.

“Countries such as France produce biofuels from sugar beet, although farmers in the UK and mainland Europe more typically grow wheat, maize and rapeseed for biofuels.

“Either way, increased demand for biofuels will be critical in determining the outlook for European tillage farmers and this will indirectly influence the profitability of sugar beet in Ireland.”

More job losses in the North West as companies preparing to pull out of region

TD blasts Government neglect of the area.

Sligo News File.

The North West is set to suffer a further wave of job losses after three more companies have reportedly posted notices of their intention to pull out of the region.

The announcement comes amid growing public alarm about the worsening state of the area’s economy.

Marc MacSharry TD

Towns, including Sligo, are witnessing the widespread closure of commercial outlets and struggling trade activity across many of what were once thriving enterprises.

The gravity of the situation has been highlighted yet again by local TD Marc MacSharry, but it seems his calls for Government intervention is falling on deaf ears.

Reflecting the growing anger and frustration of the people, the Fianna Fail Deputy has charged that job opportunities are being deliberately restricted to the East coast.

Fine Gael has been neglecting the North West for the past six years, he said, and are “choosing instead to promote employment opportunities in the Greater Dublin Area and commuter counties.”

With as many as three companies set to wind up operations in locations in Sligo and Ballyshannon, MacSharry said that coming just after Christmas, the timing of the job losses it represents “is particularly difficult for the workers and families involved.

“I want to ensure the workers that I will be working with the various employment and government agencies to find alternative options for them.

“However, the government itself needs to step up to the mark.

Heather Humphreys, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation

Companies based in this region have been operating in a difficult trading environment for the past couple of years, and now they’re facing into a major Brexit challenge. The border region is likely to be the most severely affected, but we have yet to see any concrete plans from the government about how it intends to support businesses here.

“The Taoiseach and his government colleagues are fond of making big announcements but have failed to follow up on delivery. This focus on spin over substance is wearing thin and people want to see infrastructural and economic investment in this region.

“The North West has been left behind for too long.

“I want to see a fully resourced strategic plan for this area to ensure that this region can reach its true potential,” he said


Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein backing proposed legislation to allow thousands of refugees to resettle in Ireland.

Direct provision system already under ‘ferocious pressure.’

Minister reveals refugee  centres ‘filling up very fast.’

Application for seventy relatives to join family already here as refugees.

Sligo News File

Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein are among the parties backing measures to enable thousands of refugees to enter the State.

The International Protection (Family Reunification) (Amendment) Bill moved by Independent Senators Colette Kelleher, Lynn Ruane, Alice Mary Higgins and others – has been introduced as the number of people without homes here has shot to an all-time high.

According to a Department of Housing report, 5,524 adults and 3,333 children were accessing emergency accommodation services in November, a substantial increase in the figures for October. In December, the number of people in emergency accommodation  had grown to more than 7,000.

The Senate amendment to the International Protection (Family Reunification) Bill states that its purpose is to “provide for a refugee or a person eligible for subsidiary protection to apply for members of their family, including a grandparent, parent, brother, sister, child, grandchild, ward or guardian, to enter and reside in the State.”

There are concerns that the measure will facilitate the movement of some tens of thousands of refugee relatives to Ireland within a relatively short space of time, piling even more pressure on the country’s already over-stretched housing services, hospitals and schools.

Stating that the Government opposed the amendment, Minister of State for Justice David Stanton told the Seanad that the refugee direct provision system was under “ferocious pressure” and direct provision centres were “filling up very fast.”

He said, “As the Government informed the House in July, the average number of family members applied for under the family reunification provisions of the Refugee Act was 20, and the largest application was for over 70 family members.

“The admission of so many people would have significant and unquantifiable impacts on the provision of housing, health care, education, welfare payments and other State supports. The financial impacts of this proposal are not contemplated in the Bill,” he said.

Senator David Norris said it beggared belief that “large numbers of people are applying to be joined by 70 family members.”

Norris told senators he had received a communication from Active Retirement Ireland which said it strongly supported the Bill “because it recognises the role of grandparents  in families.”

Meanwhile plans to allow the present population of asylum seekers to take up employment, become self-employed or access training are currently under consideration. The government is also set to review the country’s employment permit system with the aim of substantially increasing the number of employment permits to enable low-skilled foreign workers to work in some sectors of the economy.

The development, while welcomed in some business representatives, could have serious implications for the employment prospects and pay rates of young Irish job seekers, particularly in the North West of the State where government support for the region’s economic health has been sparse in the extreme.

A trade union leader has claimed that currently tens of thousands of workers in Ireland are on “exploitive” zero-hour contracts

TDs in Sligo – Leitrim include Fianna Fail’s Eamonn Scanlon, party spokesman on employment and small business, and Marc MacSharry; Martin Kenny, Sinn Fein, and Tony McLoughlin, assistant whip to the Fine Gael Party.







More money for TDs

Pensioners must wait until March for minor €5 pension increase.

Sligo News File

Signs the economy is growing: nearly €4,000 salary top up for TDs. The sum has been approved as deputies return from their third – or should that be the fourth – break from the Dail in the space of a year.

However, retired folk will have to wait until March before they qualify for the lamentable €5 Budget increase in the pension.

For the time ahead, the story is to be one of the more and more taxes, levies and charges, including, if the government gets away with it, the imposition of a fee on every household in the country to help feed the costly broadcasting needs of RTE.

Families won’t have to own a television to be rammed for the toll; it is proposed that it should apply whether or not there is a television in the home.

Rural TD Denis Naughton, an Independent Roscommon deputy, has hinted that collection of any such tariff may be handed over to the Revenue Commissioners. This would leave currently struggling An Post stripped of yet another one of the services it desperately needs to survive.

Naughton is responsible for the operations of An Post.