Protests have hit beef plant exports

Meat processors continued legal efforts to stop protests at their facilities, with Meat Industry Ireland admitting that some export markets have not be served in recent days due to the blockages at processing facilities.

Protests have hit beef plant exports

Meat processors continued legal efforts to stop protests at their facilities, with Meat Industry Ireland admitting that some export markets have not be served in recent days due to the blockages at processing facilities.

As the beef protest crisis rumbles on, in the High Court Mr Justice Anthony Barr granted permanent orders prohibiting unlawful protest by eight individuals against whom the Kepak group of companies had obtained temporary injunctions last week in relation factories at Ennis, Co Clare; Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath; Athleague, Co Roscommon and Clonee, Co Meath.

He also granted permanent consent orders restraining three other defendants, Trevor Pearson, Michael Shannon and Paul Murphy, from unlawfully protesting, trespassing or intimidating customers, suppliers or staff at Liffey Meats plants.

A TD who interrupted High Court proceedings against a number of beef plant protesters by claiming to make representations on their behalf was told by a judge he had no right of audience in the court.

Peadar Tóibin, the Meath West TD, stood up in the public gallery during the call-over of cases and said he wished to inform the court that some named defendants had not been served with and had no knowledge of the proceedings against them in relation to a protest at Liffey Meats, Ballinasloe.

Mr Justice Barr told Mr Tóibin he had no right to speak on their behalf and the politician left the court shortly after without further attempt to participate in the proceedings.

Judge Barr said that in any case he would be ensuring proper service had been made on anyone against whom the court contemplated making orders.

Later, Dawn Meats was granted leave of the court to serve copies of motions seeking to attach and commit to prison 16 protesters at two of its beef plants for breach of court orders.

The 16 include nine John Does who are not named but who were specifically identified to Mr Justice Anthony Barr by photographs taken at one of the plants.

Seven others associated with alleged breaches outside the Rathdowney, Co Laois plant, were named in the proceedings.

Declan McGrath SC, who appeared with barrister Stephen Walsh for Dawn, told the court that in one instance a copy of a court order was taken down by one of the men and burned.

As legal action continued those elected to represent the newly formed Independent Farmers of Ireland group set out its position, including calling for three national representatives to speak on its behalf following a democratic election at its first meeting held on Monday.

The three representatives were elected by farmers protesting outside nine factories and immediately said they were in a position to enter any fresh negotiations should they be called.

The new group has also set out 13 key elements it said needed to be addressed to break the impasse, including the removal of all injunctions with no farmer held liable for costs, and changes to the criteria for animals being slaughtered.

Meanwhile, while the Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers’ Association claimed beef could disappear from shop shelves within days, Meat Industry Ireland denied that was the case.

“While ongoing illegal blockades of beef processing facilities is having a serious impact for staff, customers and genuine farmer suppliers with cattle to process, we are not yet at the stage of white shelves in the domestic market,” it said.

It should be remembered that the home market accounts for 10% of all the beef we produce.

“It is the case however, that some customers in our export markets have not be served in recent days due to the blockages at processing facilities here.”

This story was edited on September 4, 2019.

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