UPDATE: Protesting beef farmers threatened with legal action
By COLIN BARTLEY
THE MEAT processors have threatened the Beef Plan Movement with legal action to prevent the farmers inflicting what they call further damage to the Irish beef industry.
Earlier today Dawn Meats laid-off 150 temporary workers at their plant in Grannagh in south Kilkenny in response to the ongoing Beef Plan Movement protests.
Meat Industry Ireland(MII) now says its members have no other choice than seek legal action to stop the protests. The MMI says the protests are doing untold damage to the Irish beef industry and costing their members contracts.
In a statement released by MII, they say a refusal by the protesting farmers to enter dialogue has led to this action.
“Unfortunately, because of Beef Plan blockades, and in the aftermath of its refusal to enter talks brokered by the Minister, businesses have, as a last resort, been left with no choice other than to seek legal remedy in an effort to prevent Beef Plan from causing further damage to the Irish beef industry.”
The protests started ten days ago with thousands of farmers picketing meat processing facilities around the country. Protesters turned up at Dawn Meats Grannagh facility last Thursday.
Since then, up to 60 protesters have set up a 24-hour picket outside the south Kilkenny facility.
This morning a spokesperson for Beef Plan Movement said the lay-offs are “very regrettable” and “could have been avoided.” The movement is calling for the meat processor’s organisation, Meat Industry Ireland (MII), to sit down with the farmers and enter dialogue.
The movement has called on the organisers of this weekend’s Tullamore Agricultural Show to withdraw their invitation to Agriculture Minister Michael Creed.
It is understood Minister Creed asked the Beef Plan Movement to suspend its protests and enter into talks with all stakeholders including farm organisations, beef processors, Meat Industry Ireland (MII), and the Department of Agriculture, this invite was rejected.
This afternoon, the President of the Irish Farmer’s Association, which has not supported the Beef Plan Movement, offered his sympathy to the laid-off staff. Joe Healy wants to find a solution to the current impasse.
“A lot of those staff in those plants are part-time farmers as well. No one likes to see anyone laid-off.
“I would hope that some solution could be found to this sooner rather than later.”