Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has revealed that the number of cattle exported to Northern Ireland (NI) from the Republic of Ireland (ROI) almost doubled last year.

In response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy, the minister said the number of cattle rose from 34,000 in 2019 to 64,000 in 2020.

“This may in some way reflect a reduced export market to Europe generally last year due to reduced demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with overall reduction of some 35,000 bovines from the 2019 figure,” the minister explained.

“Market prospects are still uncertain for 2021 as demand will depend on level of confidence amongst European buyers in the anticipated progress of COVID-19 vaccination in Europe and return to dining out.”