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22/10/2021

Kildare TD hit with criticism following announcement of live exports deal with China

The live exports deal was first announced on Saturday September 18

The live exports deal was first announced on Saturday September 18

A Fine Gael TD in Kildare has been criticised following his announcement of a live exports deal between Ireland and China.

Martin Heydon, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, first announced the deal on his social media accounts on Saturday.

He said: "As Minister of State with responsibility for new market development, I welcome today's significant announcement on access to the Chinese market for Irish sheepmeat and breeding pigs."

"My Department, in collaboration with the embassy of Ireland in Beijing, has pursued market access for sheep meat with the Chinese authorities over a number of years."

Minister Heydon continued: "The agreement follows on from a successful inspection of Irish plants by Chinese auditors in August/September 2019 and Bord Bia has already conducted market insight research.

China is a substantial importer of sheepmeat and last year it imported €1.47bn worth of sheepmeat."

Minister Heydon was thanked by Fianna Fáil's Charlie McConalogue, who is also Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine publicly on Twitter following the announcement.

Since then, while some praised Heydon's announcement, it still attracted a substantial number of vocal critics.

One notable critic was Dáil Deputy and Senator Dan Boyle, who is also the EU Climate Pact Ambassador for Ireland.

Senator Boyle quote-tweeted McConalogue's post thanking Heydon and captioned it: "I don't see exporting live pigs to China as something to celebrate."

Others in the comments section pointed to China's controversial animal welfare record as the main reason for their disapproval of the recent announcement:

While live exports are currently legal in Ireland, many countries have banned them, citing ethical reasons.

Earlier this year, government officials in England and Wales said that it would become the first EU countries to ban live exports of animals, with the exception of poultry.

These planned changes are part of a post-Brexit welfare plan.

In related news, Minister McConalogue recently launched a major investment of €10 million into a pilot Soil Sampling and Analysis Programme. 

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