AN IRISH motorway was brought to a standstill yesterday as a number of tractors blocked lanes on the M50 during rush hour.
Gardaí had warned of "increased protest activity" on the second day of demonstrations by farmers campaigning for fair pay, and that increased activity came in the form of at least 20 tractors travelling at a snail's pace down the busy motorway.
Videos of the protest show the motorway lit up by the vehicles, with cars and trucks stuck behind and a gridlock stretched back as far as the eye can see.
Gardaí have warned of serious delays on the M50 in Dublin due to a protest by farmers. Delays are reported southbound on the M50 from the M1/M50 interchange to junction 4 Ballymun where all lanes are blocked. | https://t.co/0NEg7BZlnG pic.twitter.com/EgHHNi3nxk
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) January 16, 2020
— Laura Hogan (@LauraHoganTV) January 16, 2020
The protest, which caused severe delays, drew both criticism and support from the public.
Some voiced anger at the delays in travel at one of the busiest times of the day for commuters returning home after work in the capital, with one man suggesting the gardaí "should be charging every one of them".
Others in support of the protest said the farmers should step it up a level and park the tractors on the M50.
If you think there’s a more effective way for the farmers to protest than blocking the M50 with a load of tractors dressed in fairy lights then I’m sorry but you’re wrong
— halloween tinsel (@motlinebling) January 17, 2020
An estimated 400 tractors descended on Ireland's capital city on Wednesday, with Irish farmers demanding an increase in price for their beef, and to voice criticisms of the deal arranged with the government last year following weeks of demonstrations last summer.
Farmers slept in their vehicles overnight to ensure the continuation of traffic blockades in the city centre, before eventually taking to the M50 on Thursday evening.
Speaking to The Irish Times on Wednesday, Co Kildare farmer John Dallon said that the protests will continue until the price of beef rises.
“The price of beef at the minute is €3.60 a kilo," he said.
"If you look at the price of beef in England, we’re about 50 cent behind and across mainland Europe we’re 22 cent behind the average. Why should we continue to be treated the way we’re being treated?"
"We’re not even getting the cost of our production, how are we expected to live?”