The government is still hopeful that fresh talks aimed at ending the beef crisis can get underway on Monday, even as some protests escalated at the same time as processors lifted the threat of legal action against those demonstrating.
A fresh protest began at the Kepak facility in Watergrasshill in Cork today alongside a protest at Dawn Meats in Charleville.
At the same time, High Court proceedings that could have resulted in the imprisonment of some of those protesting outside two beef processing plants were struck out following an agreement between the factory owners and the protestors.
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed set a deadline of Monday for talks to resume, ideally with the lifting of injunctions combining with an easing of protests at factory gates.
Invitations have been issued to the same parties who attended the last round of talks, including the Irish Farmers Association and Beef Plan. However, the newly formed Independent Farmers of Ireland group has not been invited. Earlier this week it elected three representatives, based on votes from protesters at nine processing facilities, and set out its aims and sent correspondence to the Minister.
An industry source said it was "anybody's guess" how the talks would proceed on Monday, adding that production has been "very stop-start" in recent weeks.
Outside the ABP facility in Bandon in Co Cork today no lorries were again allowed in or out of the factory by a group of around 30 protesters. One said he had been home one night this week, spending every other night sleeping in his truck as the picket continued unbroken.
He also said protests in or around this year's National Ploughing Championships in Carlow, to take place the week after next, could not be ruled out if the talks did not break the impasse.
Those protesting have stressed the need for price to be uppermost in any talks process, while the meat industry has spoken about the effects of disruption to work in the factories.
One industry source said there was no likelihood of beef disappearing from shop shelves in the near future, but added: "In the longer term, anything is possible."
Any talks are set to take place at the Backweston Campus in Co Kildare and the Department said its representatives have been engaging directly with farmers in recent weeks.
"We enter into the talks in good faith and we hope everyone comes in that spirit," one Departmental source said.
In the High Court today, Mr Justice Anthony Barr was told that proceedings brought by Dawn Meats seeking to have several protesters committed to prison for the alleged breach of injunctions previously granted by the court could be struck out.
Separate proceedings brought by Liffey Meats, who had previously obtained injunctions preventing protestors from blockading three of their plants were also struck out, on consent following an agreement reached between those parties.
However, protests were also underway or continuing at three plants in Cork, in Bandon, Charleville and now in Watergrasshill. One of the protesters at the latter facility said: "Farmers got off the picket the last time and we got a kick up the ass. They gave us nothing.
"We have to see what is on the table," he said of Monday's talks. "Last time they offered nothing."
He said the protest would continue over the weekend and that "if there are no retailers at this [the talks] it's a waste of time".