NORTH Clare farmers are “outraged” at the possibility Ennistymon Mart could be sold for development if an offer is accepted by its parent company.
The Clare Champion understands a six-figure sum has been offered for the town-centre site by an undisclosed party and is currently under consideration by the board of Clare Marts, the farmer-owned co-operative that runs Ennistymon Mart along with livestock marts in Ennis, Kilrush, Scariff and Kilfenora.
A meeting of the board of Clare Marts took place on Wednesday night but the offer was not on the agenda for discussion.
The Clare Champion understands that a well-known supermarket chain may be interested in buying the site.
“We in the IFA have, over the years, had great difficulty obtaining decent market returns from most major supermarket groups, Irish and foreign,” said Michael Lynch in his role as chairman of the Clare branch of the Irish Farmers’ Association.
“At a recent IFA county executive meeting, the opinion was in favour of retention of the mart under farmer control, in other words, that it should be retained by Clare Marts. There is no strict IFA policy on the sale of marts but the IFA would want any mart to provide a first-class service to members and be economically viable,” he continued.
Mr Lynch is a board member of Clare Marts but could not comment specifically on details relating to any offer on the mart or its proposed sale.
The board of Clare Marts has control of buying and selling assets and would not, by rule, have to get the agreement of a majority of its 2,500 shareholders.
However, this has provoked the ire of local farmers and traders. “There is total outrage in North and North West Clare at the idea and the cheek of selling the mart in Ennistymon,” said Tom Clair, local farmer and chairman of the Ennistymon branch of the IFA.
“The reason we don’t want it sold is for the convenience of people in North Clare. You are in and out of Ennistymon Mart in three hours. It starts around 11am and is usually finished by four and since it started it never had a better season than it had this year.
“The best weanlings in the country are traded in Ennistymon Mart, traders and buyers come from all over the country because of the quality of the stock offered in Ennistymon. The fat stock show here this year was the best sale that was ever held in Ennistymon,” Mr Clair said.
Asked whether users of the Ennistymon facility would consider travelling to marts in Kilfenora or Ennis if the site was sold, Mr Clair was uncertain.
“There is such outrage at the moment that people here will try to trade outside of Clare Marts if they can at all if Ennistymon Mart is sold,” he said.
The Clare Champion was unable to contact the manager of Clare Marts for comment before going to print.