Clare TD Joe Carey has written to Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue urging his department to adopt a more “common sense” approach to restrictions at marts to help protect farmers’ incomes during the pandemic.

Deputy Carey spoke out after chaos ensued at 16 marts across the country, including Sixmilebridge, over the weekend when one of the main online systems used by marts crashed. Some marts had to cancel sales while others experienced significant delays.

The Clarecastle-based TD said: “Livestock marts were very quick to adopt strict social distancing measures as soon as the Covid-19 outbreak emerged.

“Farmers attending the marts responded very positively to the new protocols and there was very high compliance with social distancing and mask wearing.”

In his correspondence to Minister McConalogue, Deputy Carey called for marts to be allowed to facilitate a limited number of ring-side buyers with strict social distancing protocols.

The local Fine Gael TD added: “Unfortunately the events over the weekend show that many farmers’ fears about 100% online bidding replacing actual marts were well founded.

“I have urged the minister to consider reviewing the current restrictions as they apply to marts. Unless we have a more common-sense approach to the restrictions farmers’ incomes will take a serious hit again over the difficult months ahead.”

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