Meat Industry Ireland issues strong rebuke to Beef Plan protests and hints at legal route
Meat Industry Ireland has issued a statement on the Beef Plan blockade of a number of meat factories around the country, including one at Meadow Meats Rathdowney.
In the statement, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) says it "is extremely disappointed that an initiative brokered by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to bring together the full resources of the State and all the beef sector stakeholders was rejected last night by Beef Plan, who refused to participate.
"Earlier in the evening, MII accepted the Minister’s invitation to attend the meeting despite the serious intimidation and outright illegality its members have faced over the past twelve days of the Beef Plan blockades of meat plants.
"MII acknowledges the right of suppliers to organise a peaceful protest; however the unlawful behaviour of some protestors at certain sites has caused significant and irreparable damage to the beef industry. The continued intimidation of fellow farmer suppliers, company employees, government assigned veterinarians and other service providers including hauliers is unacceptable," the statement says.
"Unfortunately, as a result of the Beef Plan campaign of illegal blockades, companies have been forced to lay off employees with more expected to be laid off in the coming days as operations grind to a halt. Other service providers are also unable to earn a living as sites are blockaded and unable to continue operations unimpeded.
"At this point Beef Plan has been responsible for the closure of some 14 plants while many other plants are now operating well below capacity due to intimidation and breaches of the rule of law. Beef Plan claims of conducting peaceful protests ring hollow in the face of these facts.
"The illegal blockading of factories has increased the risk of businesses losing customers that they have supplied and developed over the past 20 years. Continuity of supply is key to maintaining customers in a very competitive market. This campaign of blockades and intimidation puts at risk the success of our exporters and indeed farmers’ and the State’s marketing investment in securing outlets for Irish beef over many years.
"Moreover, the continued actions by Beef Plan are creating serious health and safety risks and the potential for a serious accident/injury is a major concern for our members. Beef Plan leadership must bear full responsibility for its actions and the resultant damage caused.
"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 statement concludes.