ICMSA on Tirlan redundancies: ‘Dairy sector shrinking before our eyes’

Reacting to the announcement of a round of voluntary redundancies at Tirlan (the State’s largest milk processor), ICMSA President Denis Drennan said that he feared it was “just the beginning” of a massive restructuring of our dairy sector, due primarily to current Government policy.

Mr Drennan said that our dairy sector – the “one indigenous sector in which Ireland led the world” – is now shrinking before our eyes, as “deliberately depressive policies and regulations” are piled on low prices and high inputs prices.

He said it was “delusional” to suggest that the sector could experience the kind of collapse in investment, income and volumes it was now undergoing without having a negative multiplier on the wider rural economy all over the State – but most particularly in Munster and South Leinster.

“The 150 redundancies that Tirlan are seeking may be just the beginning of a wider sector restructuring”, Mr Drennan explained. “We are in danger of entering a period of decline within a sector that has, more than any other, provided prosperity and economic prospects to rural areas all across the State.

“The tragedy – and in time it will be judged as exactly that – is that it was perfectly possible to move smoothly towards our environmental targets, all while preserving our world-leading dairy sector and the rural economic bulwark it represents. ICMSA has, on numerous occasions, outlined how and why we should do that”, said Mr Drennan.

“Instead, the Government and EU have decided on a crude policy aimed at just regulating dairy farmers out of existence at the prompting of a chorus of self-appointed and self-important so-called eco ‘activists’ and commentators”.