‘Where’s the beef, you vegan!’ Leo Varadkar HECKLED over Brexit farming policy

Where’s the beef, you vegan

Heckle directed at Leo Varadkar

Mr Varadkar was greeted by shouts and chants of “Where’s the beef, you vegan?” as he arrived in Cork for a Government meeting. Members of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) staged a demonstration outside City Hall on Wednesday to coincide with a Cabinet meeting being held in the landmark building. The chants were made in reference to comments made earlier this year by the Taoiseach that he was cutting down on eating red meat for health and climate change reasons.

Mr Varadkar was cornered by IFA president Joe Healy as he made his way into the building.

Mr Healy told the Taoiseach: “We need answers today.

“We need a clear message coming from this meeting today, farmers are depending on it.”

Industries across the country were also waiting on answers as they were waiting on farmers to pay the bills that they owed, Mr Healy said.

Mr Varadkar told Mr Healy that the Government wanted to do more for beef farmers, but he said they already received far more income supports than other sectors.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney – Mr Varadkar’s deputy as leader – was also cornered by farmers as he arrived for the meeting.

IFA members told him they had suffered long enough and that beef farmers could not continue to operate in the midst of such economic uncertainty.

The organisation is calling on the Government to step in and support beef farmers.

Speaking ahead of the rally, Mr Healy said: “The Government can run, but they can’t hide.”

He added: “Beef farmers need a Brexit support package and we will be sending a strong message to the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his Cabinet.”

Last month, farmers stormed an AIB meeting in Dublin in protest against the bank’s sale of loans to so-called vulture funds, which involve investment in companies or properties which are performing poorly and may therefore be undervalued.

The demonstration was part of a nationwide campaign opposing the planned sale of farm loans by the State-owned bank.

Agriculture is a massively important sector of Ireland’s economy.

Agri-food exports were estimated to have be worth more than €1 billion per month in 2018.

Ireland exports 90 percent of its net beef output, making the country the largest beef exporter in Europe and one of the largest in the world.

In addition, 85 percent of dairy output is exported.

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