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Beef farmers withdraw from one protest location over small number of demonstrators not abiding by rules

Farmers around the country have been holding protests in recent weeks.

File photo - farmers protesting outside Leinster House on 10 July
File photo - farmers protesting outside Leinster House on 10 July
Image: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

THE BEEF PLAN Movement has withdrawn from one of its protests because it said a small number of demonstrators were not abiding by its rules and guidelines. 

The Beef Plan Movement is an independent group set up by farmers who feel they are not getting value for money for their cattle. 

Over the past couple of weeks, multiple protests have popped up in 22 sites across the country.

A spokesperson for the movement confirmed to TheJournal.ie this afternoon that the protest at Charleville had been stood down. 

He said a small number of demonstrators arrived and “wouldn’t obey the rules and guidelines”. 

“We said we’d take a step back until they had left,” he said. 

The spokesperson did not confirm when or if the protest at Charleville would recommence. 

Visit to Clonee

TheJournal.ie yesterday visited the picket line outside the Kepak meat processing facility in Clonee, Meath. 

Although a relatively small number of people were at the event, their message was the same as those protesting in Cavan, Kilkenny and elsewhere: they want to be able to afford to live which, at the moment, they say is not possible. 

Richard Flynn is one of the many who have been protesting the last two weeks.

He said that the reality for beef farmers in Ireland today is that the workers can’t afford to live on the salaries that farming alone gives them. Most people Flynn knows work extra jobs to supplement their income, he said, adding that he hopes the industry is not past the point of no return. 

“We are protesting the price of beef and the industry as a whole in the way it is conducting itself with beef farmers. The Beef Plan has been building over the last 18 months bringing in farmers who don’t feel they have a voice in dealing with processors in getting a fair process.”

Of the many problems the collective has, the major one is the distribution of money between farmers, processors and retailers. 

The group in Clonee gave an example of someone buying €10 worth of beef from their local supermarket. The collective claim that the retailer gets €5.10 for three days of work, the processor get €2.90 for three days of work and the farmer gets €2 for two years’ worth of work. 

Government’s stance

Yesterday, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said his offer of talks with farmers protesting had been rejected, amid reports of job losses at processing plants. 

In a statement, Creed said that his office tried to “reach out” to enter talks and temporarily suspend their protests. 

“A round table discussion regarding the current market difficulties” has been offered to the Beef Plan Movement,” it said. 

“In light of the announcement of lay-offs in the meat processing sector, the difficult income situation facing farmers with livestock for slaughter and on animal welfare grounds, the Minister is again calling on the Beef Plan Movement to reflect on its position and to take up the invitation to enter into talks,” the statement said. 

Responding to Creed’s comments, the Beef Plan Movement said in a statement that it is “disappointed and frustrated” at the position adopted by Creed and Meat Industry Ireland “in that a precondition of suspending the protest is required subject to him meeting with the group”. 

For now, Beef Plan Movement protests, with the exception of Charleville, are continuing to take place across the country. 

With reporting by Garreth MacNamee and Conal Thomas

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