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Gardaí have warned the public to expect major disruption to traffic in Dublin city centre on Wednesday due to a large protest by farmers over beef prices.
Over 400 tractors are expected to take part in what organisers are hoping will be the biggest turnout to date in a series of demonstrations to highlight low prices for beef farmers.
The Individual Farmers of Ireland, which is staging the demonstration, has claimed it will be “significantly larger” than previous protests in November and December.
Hundreds of farmers from all over Ireland are expected to converge on Kildare Street to protest outside the Department of Agriculture and the Dáil.
Farmers remain concerned about the lack of progress by the Beef Task Force in meeting their demands for beef processors to pay higher prices to farmers in the sector.
It following the resumption of talks by the task force when representatives of the main supermarket groups attending their first face-to-face meeting with representatives of various farming bodies including the Irish Farmers’ Association, the Beef Plan movement and Maicre na Feirme.
The Individual Farmers of Ireland has claimed the task force, which includes representatives of all stakeholders, was “fast becoming a talking shop designed to pacify farmers’ concerns without any intention from the Government or the meat industry to resolve the impasse”.
Although the protest is not due to begin until 2pm, gardaí said traffic would be impacted from 10am onwards due to a number of road closures in the city centre.
Streets around Leinster House including Kildare Street, Molesworth Street, St Stephen’s Green South, Merrion Square West/South/East and Merrion Street Upper will be closed to all traffic.
In addition, eastbound traffic on Kevin Street will be diverted up New Bride Street, while only public transport services will be allowed on St Stephen’s Green North and East from 2pm.
Gardaí said motorists should also expect some delays on the main routes into Dublin from midday as tractors start to converge on the city centre.
The authorities said bus lanes will not be affected and commuters are advised to avail of public transport where possible.
Fr Brian D’Arcy received an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his work building cross community relations in Northern Ireland in recent decades, at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace on Tuesday.
Fr D’Arcy received the award from the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, after agreeing to accept the honour last year.
Fr D’Arcy said royal officials were eager to award an OBE to a figure in Northern Ireland due to recent political difficulties between nationalist and unionist communities.
“They were pretty keen that someone would step forward, because the political situation in the North was so bad and nothing was happening and they were just looking to increase some form of cross-community relations and some form of help towards a healing path,” he said.
“It’s nice to get something to celebrate rather than be in grief about,” he told the RTÉ radio Ray D’Arcy show.
The priest said the honour had been offered to him “some time ago,” and then again by royal officials last year. “I texted a few people and said I don’t think you can refuse it,” he said.
“How can you say that you were working towards cross community relations and then refuse to take an award because of whatever,” he said.
“My reservation was I didn’t feel that I should be getting an award for something that I should be doing as a priest anyway,” Fr D’Arcy said. He said he “absolutely” did not have any objection in principle to accepting the honour.
When accepting the OBE, the priest told Prince William he was praying for his family. In recent days the British Royal family has been involved in major turmoil over a decision by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, to step back as senior royals.
“I said in my particular job I’m fairly used to families having difficulties and everything can be worked out,” Fr D’Arcy told RTÉ radio.