8 March 2002

Irish auction site to close

LIVESTOCK breeders in Northern Ireland have been told their premier auction centre at Portadown is to close in June. The Automart venue has been sold for residential development.

Automart was set up as a livestock auction centre in 1960 as part of George Allens motor car sales business and staged weekly sales of pigs and store cattle.

Tom and Myrtle Clarke took over the business in 1978 and established a wide portfolio of pedigree events including the Ulster club sales for all the major cattle and sheep breed societies.

The Clarkes daughter, Libby, has been the driving force behind the business in recent years, during which time top-ranking sales at Automart regularly attracted mainland buyers across the Irish Sea.

The closure puts the future of pedigree sales in Northern Ireland in doubt. Automart has been in discussion with the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society, which has confirmed that it is considering hosting a series of pedigree sales each spring and autumn.

Tom Clarke has offered his services to re-establish sales fixtures at the RUASs Balmoral site. &#42