Despite the hostility provoked among producers here by any mention of Irish beef, the Republic will certainly become a less dominant supplier within the next few months, the MLC analysts claim. They express some surprise at the resilience of the Irish presence here, given the downturn in cattle numbers, but explain it in terms of reductions in EU export subsidies and competition out in the world market making third country business more difficult. A seasonal increase in Irish shipments for the pre-Christmas trade here is probably imminent, but the latest available official import statistics, for July, show landings from Ireland were already lower year on year. - Backing up MLC's forecast of are farm census statistics from Dublin, showing steep declines in cattle numbers in the year to June. "The lower numbers are expected to result in meat plant supplies declining even further over the next few months," notes the Irish Food Board. Latest reports from cattle markets within the Republic are of numbers well below those a year ago and prices steady. {{MEAT }}