Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has welcomed the successful conclusion of talks to allow Irish sheepmeat access the lucrative Japanese market.

Deputy Carey said that the agreement reached by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed with his Japanese counterpart reflects the increased focus by the Department of Agriculture on opening and enhancing market access to key markets.

“Sheep farming is a very important part of Irish agriculture and is the fourth most important animal enterprise in Ireland, operating on both hill and lowland farms.

“I have no doubt that this news will be warmly received by sheep farmers here in Clare.

“A strong agri-food and seafood sector is a major part in driving employment and economic development in the most peripheral areas of the country, as well as in every town and village. Fine Gael has always recognised the importance of the family farm structure and the need to ensure our rural communities receive the investment needed to continue to grow,” Deputy Carey added