A second round of talks had been planned for Monday 9 September between MII, the Irish Farmers Association and lobby group Beef Plan Movement, with a view to discussing prices paid to producers.
However, MII released a statement hours before talks were due to begin announcing that it would not be participating in the beef talks due to the fact that 20 beef processing plants were being blockaded. “During an initial engagement with the independent chair and government officials, MII communicated that protestors had failed to step back from factory gate blockades and had instead intensified these illegal blockades. MII requested the Minister and Independent Chairman to use their best endeavours to have blockades lifted to enable talks. The MII delegation adjourned its participation in the talks until all illegal blockades are lifted.”
The MII statement went on to highlight the potential impact of these blockades. It added: “The extent of the continued illegal blockading has placed factory employees in peril of layoffs and prevented beef farmers from having their factory ready cattle processed. Furthermore, the blockades have put in jeopardy national and international customers of Irish beef.”
MII also called into question Beef Plan Movement’s leadership. “MII members companies accept the rights of individuals and groups to hold peaceful protests. But it reiterated its stance that unless illegal blockades are suspended immediately, it cannot continue to engage with the talks process. It said that the clear implication of the failure to secure a suspension of illegal blockades also demonstrates the absence of leadership capacity to deliver a successful outcome to any such talks. This was also evident on the previous occasion when an agreement was reached in talks brokered by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, but subsequently reneged upon by Beef Plan.”
Beef Plan Movement recently began protesting at retailer distribution centres around Ireland and criticised the fact there was no retail presence at the talks.