The Beef Industry says it is being forced into shutdown due to illegal blockades in many processing businesses in Ireland.
Meat Industry Ireland (MII) today said that due to the ongoing illegal blockades across most of the beef processing businesses in Ireland, its members are facing an indefinite end of cattle slaughtering throughout the country. "The vast majority of slaughtering has already been stopped and additional ‘wildcat’ disruptions are putting the balance of facilities under threat of closure," MII said in a statement.
"The forced closure of affected sites is resulting in the temporary lay-off of thousands of employees. It will also mean that supplier farmers are unable to sell their animals and vital customer relationships are being damaged.
"The ongoing intimidation – including verbal and physical abuses, blackmail and vandalism - of staff, farmer suppliers and hauliers by the illegal protesters has led us to this juncture," MII alleged.
"In advance of Monday’s talks, MII members showed good faith by deferring legal actions against protesters at the request of the Minister for Agriculture. The escalation of illegal blockades over the weekend has been a huge disappointment to MII members.
"The damage being done to the Irish Beef sector is significant because hard won markets are being lost. The processing industry is not in a position to continue operating in an environment where it cannot be sure whether staff, farmer suppliers and product can safely enter and leave the factories.
"While MII members have no objection to normal peaceful protests, illegal blockades are entirely against the interests of all involved in the Irish beef industry, particularly the disruption and losses to farmers who want to sell their animals and employees who want to work," they concluded.
Blockades are ongoing at a number of plants, including Meadow Meats in Rathdowney.