Taoiseach is being urged to “push for compromises on both sides” in order to secure a trade deal between the UK and EU before the end of the year.

Talks between the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson are continuing today with a view to coming to a last-minute agreement.

Edmond Phelan, the outgoing president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) today (Monday, December 14) called on the Taoiseach to use ‘private channels’ to emphasise to President von der Leyen the importance of a deal.

“There is too much at stake to allow statecraft to fail. Although there are a lot of misgivings about the good faith of the British government wanting to do a trade deal, there is also a need to see where the EU can manoeuvre.

The cost of no-deal is just too appalling, particularly for Ireland and especially the beef sector.

“The EU has always found ways to strike a deal, most notably the Mercosur deal, even though doubts persist about the enforceability of fair play in Brazil. Ultimately, pragmatism is needed, and that will require ‘give and take’ from both sides,” Phelan argued.

The ICSA president added: “EU leaders have every right to be exasperated by the British approach to the process. It is understandable that the ‘gunboat’ approach to diplomacy is not tolerated by the EU.

However, all that needs to be put aside at this critical hour.

“We need a deal now and the Irish government must emphasise that through private channels with President von der Leyen,” Phelan added.

Representatives from the ICSA will address Brexit-related issues when they speak at a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine tomorrow.

ICSA presidential election

In other ICSA-related news, two candidates are in the running to take over from Phelan as the organisation’s president.

Dermot Kelleher is a suckler farmer from Inchigeela in West Cork. He currently holds the position of ICSA Munster vice-president.

Sean McNamara is a sheep, beef and suckler farmer from Lismacaffrey in Co. Westmeath. He currently holds the position of ICSA Sheep Committee chairperson.

The new president will succeed Phelan when his tenure comes to an end in January.

Due to restrictions, the election of a new president will take place by postal vote.

Votes will be counted at a special meeting of the ICSA to be held this Thursday, December 17, 2020.

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