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Death threats to meat company managers complicated efforts to fix the beef price dispute – Dáil told

Michael Creed
Michael Creed

John Downing

Meat company managers received death threats at a firm which got an injunction against blockading beef farmers, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has told the Dáil.

Mr Creed was speaking as hundreds of independent farmers, many driving tractors, protested in Dublin city centre over low cattle prices. The Minister said these death threats added to difficulties in establishing a taskforce to deal with the beef crisis which dominated this summer and autumn.

The Leinster House protests follow blockades at beef processing factories over several months. TDs who spoke supporting the demonstrators, called for independent and non-aligned farmers to be recognised and represented at the taskforce.

The taskforce was promised as part of an agreement to end the protests. But the Mr Creed said all TDs were well aware of the specific issues involved in convening of the group, as farmers called for remaining injunctions to be lifted against farmers who picketed outside processing plants.

The Agriculture Minister said the injunctions that remained were granted to a company that is not part of the taskforce.

“What has compounded the difficulty is that senior management in that company have had death threats issued to them. And their partners and families have been intimidated in that local community,” Mr Creed told the Dáil.

While several TDs expressed support for the protesting farmers, Mr Creed said “we are grappling with very difficult issues”.

A Dáil row also erupted when the Minister said that Independent TD Mattie McGrath was “shrugging his shoulders” and might “dismiss the difficulty of death threats – but the Government doesn’t and the gardai don’t”.

Mr McGrath countered that he accepted that threats had been made and that the Government was taking them seriously and called on the Minister to withdraw his remarks. The Minister said previous experience had shown what followed from death threats and they were taking them very seriously.

Mr McGrath said the demonstrating farmers outside the Leinster House gates were non-political and they were worried about the perilous situation they faced. He had called on the Minister to meet them and to accept a letter from them. “ The taskforce isn’t doing the job, won’t do the job and it’s not business as usual,” Mr McGrath said.

The Tipperary TD also said he appreciated the support from Dublin-based People Before Profit, Brid Smith, who raised the issue. Ms Smith said there had been eight weeks of blockading of meat production plants and farmers were back to ask for the issues to be dealt with urgently.

She called on the Government to be inclusive of all farmer representative groups, and the Independent Farmers of Ireland who have re-grouped and have demanded the lifting of all injunctions so that meaningful talks can take place.

Fianna Fáil Cavan-Monaghan TD, Niamh Smyth, argued the Minister had not delivered on his commitment two months ago when farmers ended their protests to deliver on a taskforce.

Online Editors

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Josh Freed: We live in a world where everything breaks and no one can fix it

There’s a tiny stove light we leave on at night that does something truly remarkable. It’s lasted 23 years, ever since we bought the stove just after our son was born.

Every night that lightbulb keeps shining and never needs replacement, so one of these must be true:

A) The bulb is a miracle and we should donate it to the Church Of Infinite Light

B) The bulb is the world’s first perpetual motion machine

C) The bulb is a design flaw.

In the same 23 years we’ve been through four microwaves, five vacuums, three fridges, two dishwashers, three cars and 600 toasters, yet this little bulb keeps glowing.

I don’t even know what brand it is because I’m scared to unscrew it and kill the magic.

Besides, the company that made it probably went under long ago for making something that never needs replacement. I can hear the meeting back in 2007 when the factory owner huddled with his manager:

Manager: Congrats boss! We’re hearing from people who’ve used our bulb for over a decade. What a product!

Owner: That’s what worries me: We’ll never sell another one! I need you to meet with our engineers about fixing the problem.

Manager: But how can we fix it? It’s the best bulb in the world!

Owner: Fix it so it breaks!

Our tiny bulb is a reminder of today’s replacement culture where everything always gets replaced, remodelled, updated or upgraded.

Our phones slow to a crawl as the batteries die, usually just when our two-year plan ends. So we’re tempted to update with bigger memories that run more apps that need more power and kill our batteries faster.

There’s often no alternative anyway. In today’s all-electronic age toasters, espresso-makers, phones and even fridges are cheaper to replace than repair — if anyone repairs them at all.

When our TV recorder had a small glitch two years ago, I brought it in to fix, but the Videotron clerk eyed me like I’d wandered in from the 20th century.

“Repair?” he sputtered. “If our technicians even touch that, it will cost you minimum $100. Instead, I’ll sell you a new updated recorder for $14.99 a month — and deduct that amount each month as a permanent promotion.”

So every month for over two years they’ve charged me $14.99, then deducted $14.99, in the weird bookkeeping of the modern world.

The only principle is: out with the out-dated and in with the latest. Repairs today are mostly reserved for big items like cars and houses, and how long will that last?

In a decade your carpenter will tell you: “Your roof needs replacing and your pipes and wiring are shot. It’s cheaper to just put in a new house — we can have one delivered tomorrow.”

Eventually, the word “repair” will become an archaic, forgotten term. You’ll look it up in the dictionary and find: “Repair (v): Old English verb, out of usage, replaced by the word ‘replace’.”

By then, fixing things will be an illegal profession seen as tampering with the buy-and-replace cycle that makes the world go round.

“ALERT: Illegal Maytag repairman seen on Isabella and Victoria. Terminate and destroy, before he destroys the economy.”

Besides, no one knows how to repair today’s gadgets anyway. The companies that make them are too busy churning out endless new models and can’t be bothered to produce parts for each one, let alone figure out how to fix them.

They just want to sell you new gadgets, as do the distant factory workers who produce them: armies of Vietnamese, Bangladeshi and other low-paid workers producing millions of gadgets a day, and praying we buy them.

Otherwise, their factories will close, they’ll lose their jobs and it will all be our fault for not replacing our three-year-old phones. If everything lasted as long as my lightbulb, it would be lights out for the global economy.

Part of this is just capitalism out to make a buck, but much of it is also us getting bored with the same car, clothes, toaster oven or giant TV.

In fact, today’s TVs last longer than ever but who wants them when tomorrow’s are always bigger and better with “8K, HDR, 88-inch OLED” screens and astounding colour we absolutely must have to watch the weather.

My 10-year-old 40-incher is a black and white TV in comparison, and I crave a new one — though my old one once seemed miraculous to me.

On a planet quickly using up its resources, can this go on indefinitely? Someday, we will all have to learn to live with our “boring” stuff, while companies live with fewer sales.

By then they’ll be hitting us with special “charging surcharges” of $200 a month for phone batteries that never die.

But for now my little stove light is an accidental beacon for the future. And I’m rooting for it.

I suspect it will still be burning when we have to replace the stove.

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