The President of ICMSA, John Comer, has today described the call made by a French farm leader for a ‘hard’ border between Northern Ireland and the Republic as “disappointingly self-centred”.
These comments were made by Mr. John Comer upon hearing comments made by Christophe Hillairet.
Hillairet is a council member of COPA and the leader of an influential regional French farmers association, in which Hillairet said that he was afraid that the UK would sign agreements to import food from the Commonwealth and that he was particularly concerned by how these imports might find their way into the Republic and the wider EU.
Monsieur Hillairet said “Ireland is a big problem but for the French farmer we will need to have a hard border between the north and the Republic as otherwise we will have a lot of products that will cross from north to south. That would be very dangerous for our producers.”
The comments made by the French leader were described by Mr. Comer as premature and self-centred. He added that Mr. Hillairet should become aware of the countries recent history of conflict and suffering in the mentioned border region. He claims this avoidance would continue to take clear precedence over the anxieties of French farm groups as far as Ireland is concerned.
Mr Comer went onto explain that these regions were in fact rural farming communities who owned lands and collected and processed dairy products both sides of the border.
He also added that the mentioned farming communities are within their right to expect the EU and the UK to continue to facilitate the natural process.
Monsieur Hillairet also mentioned his fears that lamb from New Zealand would start to arrive over this potential “soft” border and make its way into the Republic before then entering the EU markets. With regards this comment Mr. Comer said there was already a labelling procedure in place, Third-country-of-origin, which operated satisfactorily throughout the EU. He also added that the UK’s adherence to said procedures could well be negotiated as part of the Brexit process.
More importantly the ICMSA president added that the EU farm leaders should show some degree of solidarity and commitment to Irish farming communities. He said these communities are the most affected sector within the EU, both practically and economically.
Mr. Comer concluded by saying “The only people who would have enjoyed reading Monsieur Hillariet’s comments were the very anti-EU British Eurosceptics who want to play the different Member States off against each other and who want to forment that feeling of tension between different sectors and nations. That must not happen and with respect to our French friends we would prefer them to reflect on the common good and not just on their own particular sectoral anxieties”