Meat factories threaten legal action over pickets by Beef Plan movement

Meat Industry Ireland says ‘unlawful behaviour of some protesters’ has caused significant and irreparable damage to the industry


Brian Hutton, The Irish Times

Aug 8, 2019


Meat factories are threatening legal action against Irish farmers in an attempt to quash countrywide protests which have shut down 14 processing plants in an escalating crisis in the industry over the price being paid for beef.


Meat Industry Ireland (MII), which represents processing companies, has alleged “serious intimidation and outright illegality” at a growing number of pickets at plants organised by the Beef Plan movement.


In a strongly worded statement MII said the “unlawful behaviour of some protesters at certain sites has caused significant and irreparable damage” to the industry, adding that “continued intimidation” of staff, vets and hauliers was “unacceptable”.


“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,” the statement said.


“Other service providers are also unable to earn a living as sites are blockaded and unable to continue operations unimpeded.”


It said Beef Plan had already been responsible “for the closure of some 14 plants, while many other plants are now operating well below capacity”.


MII said the “illegal blockading of factories” was threatening business built up over 20 years, and creating “serious” health and safety risks at factories.


The representative body further claimed that Beef Plan, which represents farmers, rejected an offer to enter talks to be brokered by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed on Wednesday evening.


This left MII “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”.


However, Eamon Corley, co-chair of the Beef Plan movement, denied any such approach was made to start talks to resolve the deepening dispute.


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