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Chinese delegation will visit Roscommon meat plant today following mediation with protesters

Mediation between the parties involved earlier this morning lead to the meeting going ahead today.

Protesters at another demonstration in Waterford earlier this week.
Protesters at another demonstration in Waterford earlier this week.
Image: RollingNews.ie

A CHINESE DELEGATION to Ireland will visit a meat plant in Roscommon today after a meeting on Monday was cancelled due to protesting farmers blocking the factory gates. 

Inspectors were due to visit the Kepak factory in Athleague on Monday with a view to approving the Irish factory to export sheep meat to China. 

However, a small gathering of protesters blocked the entrance and the inspection was called off. 

The Beef Plan Movement said the demonstration was not authorised by its central committee, with its Chairman Eamon Corley saying he “recognises the value of the Chinese market” for Irish farmers. 

Kepak Athleague at the time said the move was a significant “own goal” for Irish farmers and would cost farmers in the west of Ireland if the site was not Chinese export approved. 

Following mediation between the parties, Kepak Athleague has confirmed the meeting will go ahead with 

“In an effort to ensure that Kepak Athleague could be audited by the Chinese audit team currently in Ireland and that livestock would be available to facilitate this audit, management met with a mediator this morning,” a spokesperson said. 

“As a result of this mediation, the Chinese Audit will proceed as 150 cattle and 1,000 sheep sourced from local farmers will now be presented for processing on Wednesday morning.

“Protestors have agreed that they will ensure the safe entry to the site – of both the livestock and the Chinese Audit team which will allow the audit to take place.”

The company also clarified that the audit could not go ahead due to protesters preventing livestock being brought into the factory for the audit, and that the Chinese delegation itself was not prevented from entering the factory. 

“During this mediation it was clarified by Kepak that while all cattle were prevented from entering the site on Monday morning, the Chinese Audit team were not prevented from doing so contrary to some reports.”

“Kepak have a long track record in dealing with producer organisations (PO) and confirmed that once the protesters have established their own PO as a legitimate entity, the company will be happy to engage with their representatives similarly.

“Kepak view this as a positive outcome and appreciate the efforts made by the mediator in the interests of the industry.

“Should Chinese export approval be achieved it would be extremely beneficial to local farmer suppliers in the long-term as it will provide access to this fast growing market.”

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