Marie Younge – Portumna Mart, Co Galway

“It will be great to have the buyers and sellers back at the ringside come the 17 May, especially for older farmers who may have been unable to use the technology to view sales for the last few months.

“It will be fantastic to have the atmosphere back in the mart, as well as the social part of the sale days.

“While online sales have been a success overall, it hasn’t been easy on mart staff or the farmers.

“We’re looking forward to having our farmers back, while also ensuring the guidelines continue to be adhered to.”

Mike Kissane – Iveragh Mart, Co Kerry

“It’s a very positive development to have a date set for the reopening of the rings.

“Online has been brilliant for the marts, but it hasn’t been ideal. It’ll be nice to have the sellers and buyers back.

“Farmers want to be able to see cattle in the ring before buying them, it’s hard to judge stock when they’re in a pen in the yard.

“But having the social interaction back will be the best of reopening, a lot of farmers have been isolated due to the pandemic, and being able to meet people in the marts will be important to them, especially in very rural areas like here.”

Michael O’Keefe – Beef farmer, Gurteragh, Co Cork

“It’s great to hear that the marts are reopening. It’s a badly needed boost to a lot of farmers who might only go to the mart to meet a few people and buy a handful of cattle.

“The online system is great and will work well with the ringside customers, but it’s very hard to judge cattle on the screen.

“Internet is also an issue I have had myself, but a lot of older farmers are just not able to use the technology, and it’s great that they will be able to start trading in marts again.”

Helen Kells – Carrigallen Mart, Co Leitrim

“Even though most people have got some way used to the online way of trading cattle, it’s fantastic to see the reopening dates confirmed.

“Buyers will be happier on the ringside, being able to view stock as they bid. Even though numbers will have to be curtailed, it will still be great to have some farmers back.

“Some customers were just not able to use the technology and others would rather just buy or sell in person, so to have those farmers back will be great.”

“With vaccines being administered and rates reducing, older farmers will also feel safer coming in to buy and sell their cattle.”