Irish Govt Chicken Sourcing Debate Unresolved

IRELAND - Minister O'Dea has given a commitment to raise tendering for food contracts with government colleagues following the revelation that the Department of Defence opted to source its chicken requirement from outside the Republic.
calendar icon 26 June 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Minister for Defence, Willie O'Dea has given a commitment to an Irish Farmers Union (IFA) delegation led by Deputy President, Derek Deane, that the Government would look at supporting Irish produce in future tenders. The Minister said he would be consulting with other Government Departments on the issue.

According to an IFA press release, he met the delegation following an IFA poultry growers' protest outside the Department of Defence last week, over the Government's policy of sourcing chicken for the Defence Forces from a non-Quality Assured processor outside the Republic.

Mr Deane said: "IFA strongly impressed upon Minister O'Dea that Quality Assured producers should not be at a disadvantage in the Government tendering process, and the Minister agreed with this."

It was also pointed out to the Minister that labour costs in Ireland are uncompetitive when compared with those of Northern Ireland. At the current exchange rate of £0.85:€1, the minimum wage in Northern Ireland, of £5.73 (€6.74) is 22 per cent below the Irish statutory minimum wage of €8.65. In addition Irish poultry producers’ electricity prices are 22 per cent above those in Northern Ireland (UK).

Mr Deane said: "The Minister now has a clear understanding of the difficulties that the Government's tendering policy is creating for Quality Assured poultry producers. He and his Cabinet colleagues must take immediate action to redress this situation and defend Irish jobs."

IFA Poultry Chairman, Ned Morrissey, said: "This recent decision not to support indigenous Irish business shows that the Irish Government and their officials are out of touch with the challenges of the poultry sector at this time. Surely when jobs are being lost all over the country, it is more important than ever that those in power lead by example and support indigenous production. Poultry meat in this country is produced to the highest standards and is responsible for over 2,500 jobs between production, processing and subsidiary industries.”

"How can we expect retailers and food companies to give shelf space to Irish produce if our own Government does not lead by example and support Quality Assured Irish product?" he concluded.

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