[Sinn Fein]

8 October 1997

Progress urged on meat exports

The Irish government has been urged to step up its efforts to secure the early lifting of the Russian ban on the importation of carcase beef from seven Irish counties, and to ensure the immediate full and unrestricted access for live cattle exports to Egypt and Libya.

Speaking in Leinster House on Wednesday Sinn Fein TD for Cavan and Monaghan, two of the seven banned counties, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, said:

``It is absolutely essential that the Minister secures the lifting of the Russian ban. It is patently obvious too that a new arrangement for Russian veterinary inspection is also required. The Russian market has accounted for a quarter of all our beef exports and has the potential, if everyone pulls together, to substantially build on the 130,000 tonnes sold to that market in 1996. I hope that the Minister can give Irish farmers, their families and all who recognise the central importance of agriculture to our economy, an assurance of an impending end to this ban.

``Successive governments have failed to secure the reopening of the Egyptian market for live cattle exports from this country. Other opportunities would follow if the Egyptian market was re-secured.

``The apparently laid-back approach of the minister and his cabinet colleagues must be challenged. However the efforts of some deputies to reclaim the high moral ground on this lacks full credibility. Farmers are not fools - they want constructive action not playing politics with their livelihoods.

``It's long past time for the parties in this House to set the charade aside and sit down together in a serious effort to secure justice and best results for all farmers.''

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