Beef dispute talks to resume next week but Laois picket to remain in place

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Beef dispute talks to resume next week

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has confirmed that he will facilitate new talks between all parties to the beef dispute on Monday next, September 9. 

However, the picket at the Meadow Meats factory is to stay in place, until "a substantial deal has been reached," according to a representative of the farmers involved. 

Unlike the previous time when talks commenced, it appears that the participants have no intention of lifting the picket this time around.  

It's also understood that a number of farmers involved in the Rathdowney protest are due to appear in the High Court on Friday after being served with summonses earlier this week. 

Minister Creed said that, "there has been significant engagement with stakeholders throughout the duration of this dispute and I believe that there is now a basis for the renewal of talks between the parties," the Minister said on Thursday morning. 

"We have reached a point where it is critically important for the future of the sector that stakeholders engage in a spirit of compromise to resolve a dispute that has the potential to inflict long term damage on the sector if it continues. It is clear that this can only happen if processors and protestors step back from Court proceedings and illegal blockades, in order to allow space for meaningful talks to proceed."

The Minister confirmed that his Department would be in touch with stakeholders during the day to make the necessary arrangements. 

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) said that it "welcomes the opportunity to participate in a new round of talks to end the current impasse with a view to securing a return to the normal business of the beef sector.

"The processing sector has been seriously hampered by protests and blockades in recent weeks which have served no useful purpose but instead have severely impacted domestic and international customers of Irish beef, farmers seeking to deliver factory ready cattle for processing, and meat industry employees across the country," MII said.  

"For these reasons, processors were forced to take legal action in order to limit the damage being caused to their businesses. While such action was a last resort, it was not a step that companies wished to take or indeed took lightly. The injunctions were granted based on the evidence presented of illegal blockades and commercial damages caused to the businesses concerned.

"If a process of engagement can now be secured by the Minister, MII members will defer further legal proceedings, so that these talks can happen. We expect that protest action at the plants will equally be suspended," MII stated.