The beef industry is in a deepening crisis with hundreds of jobs on the line in factories and the threat of a court battle against protesting farmers, members of the Beef Plan.
The Beef Plan movement, frustrated with the collapse of beef prices to farmers, has thrown the meat processing industry into chaos, as it’s now Day 13 of protests outside meat factories around the country, including Dawn Meats in Ballyhaunis.
There appears to be no end in sight to the dispute that has shut down 14 factories, and has seen up to 200 workers temporarily laid off at Dawn Meats in Ballyhaunis “into the forseeable future”. These are all workers involved in beef processing, sheep processing is continuing at the plant.
The Irish Independent learned last night that a number of major meat processors have written to the Beef Plan movement warning it has just hours to stand down or face immediate legal action.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed now faces intense pressure to find a way to help resolve the dispute.
Mr Creed’s office said yesterday he had attempted to broker talks involving Beef Plan but these had been rejected. The movement said the precondition that protests must be called off to allow talks to begin is not something that it is prepared to accept.
Roscommon Fianna Fail TD Eugene Murphy has pleaded with Minister Creed not to get hung up about the precondition, but rather to go ahead with talks even if farmers continue their protests at the gates of meat factories.
Deputy Murphy told Midwest News reporter John Morley that he has been making the farmers’case to Minister Creed.
In the meantime, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has said its members had no choice other than to seek legal remedy in an effort to prevent Beef Plan from causing further damage to the industry.
In letters dispatched last night, beef factories made a series of demands of the Beef Plan movement, while threatening an injunction to stop the protests.
They warn that if they do not secure full access to the meat plants by this morning, then legal action will swiftly follow - including applying for injunctions.
But there is no indication this morning so far that the Beef Plan is preparing to step down its protests, with protesters continuously outside the gates of Dawn Meats here in Ballyhaunis for the 13th day this morning.