- with reporting from Conall Ó Fátharta
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has welcomed the decision by the final beef blockade to stand down its protest after repeated Government warnings a failure to end the dispute could risk the future of the entire industry.
Despite the Government and five of the six beef farmer organisations agreeing to a new deal on beef prices a week ago, recent days have seen the sector plunged into fresh crisis after a small number of farmers continued their protests.
The situation led to unprecedented warnings by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed that a failure to end the protests risked the future of the entire industry.
Over the weekend, a number of the remaining protesters stood down their meat factory blockades, with the Beef Plan Movement saying on Saturday protests had ended at Slane, Cahir, Nenagh, Charleville, Watergrasshill, Grannagh, Waterford, Athleague and Ballyhaunis.
And, after those involved in the final blockade also voted to stand down their protests on Sunday night, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed welcomed the breakthrough as a crucial moment in the controversy.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner on Sunday night, a spokesperson for Mr Creed said:
"The Minister extends his thanks to those who assisted in engaging with picket lines throughout the country over the past seven days in an effort to bring about a conclusion to the dispute.
"The establishment of the beef market taskforce is now an immediate priority with a view to implementing in full the beef industry reform agreement."