Job cuts announced this Thursday at Tirlán could be the start of similar action throughout the country’s dairy industry, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has said.

ICMSA president Denis Drennan said he fears the move by Tirlán could “just be the beginning” of a massive restructuring in the dairy industry.

The Co Kilkenny farmer, who is a Tirlán supplier, added: “We are in danger of entering a period of decline of a sector, that more than any other, provided prosperity and economic prospects to rural areas all across the state.

“The tragedy – and in time it will be judged as exactly that – is that it was perfectly possible to move smoothly towards our environmental targets while preserving our world-leading dairy sector and the rural economic bulwark it represents,” he said.


The ICMSA president added that the dairy industry is “shrinking before our eyes” and this is due primarily to current Government policy.

It is “delusional”, Drennan said, that the dairy sector could experience the collapse in investment, income and volumes it is now undergoing without having a negative multiplier on the wider rural economy, particularly in Munster and south Leinster.

“The Government and EU have decided on a crude policy aimed at just regulating dairy farmers out of existence at the prompting of a chorus of self-appointed and self-important so-called eco ‘activists’ and commentators.

“There’s no point in the Government denying that this has not been the policy. The evidence is all around us in the crashing income and plunging volumes of production,” he said.

“It's also to be seen in the empty order books of rural companies and contractors as the ‘milk multiplier’ works negatively in reverse.

“The job losses have now begun and the hollowing out of the rural economy will now pick up pace with the attendant social and demographic changes that will bring,” he added.