High Court hears that protests have escalated since injunction was granted

By Aodhan O’Faolain

The owner of several meat factories has told the High Court that protests at one of the processing plants have escalated since he secured an injunction restraining the blockading of their factories and the intimidation of staff and suppliers.

Dawn Meats brought the first of what Mr. Justice Senan Allen was told could be many applications that could see individual protesters jailed for being in contempt of court.

On Tuesday, August 27, lawyers for firms Dawn Meats and Anglo Beef Processors (ABP) separately secured various orders restraining several of named protesters, and anyone with knowledge of the making of the court’s orders, from continuing their blockade of the plants.

Today, Wednesday, August 28, Lyndon MacCann SC for Dawn Meats returned before the High Court and told Mr. Justice Allen that the situation outside his client’s plant at Grannagh, Co. Waterford, had “intensified overnight”.

Protests continued

On Wednesday morning, deliveries of cattle to the plant had been blocked by protesters who stood in front of the vehicles and refused to move aside.

An attempt was made to use the rear entrance of the plant and several deliveries had got through.

Once protesters had learned of this they parked a small truck at the rear gate, blocking it.

MacCann – who appeared with barrister Stephen Walsh BL – said one of the people that had breached the orders is a farmer called Seamus ‘Mex’ Delahunty.

He pointed out that the farmer had been present at the rear gate and had directed a volley of verbal abuse at one of the Dawn Meat managers.

A copy of the court order with a penal endorsement had been served on him, MacCann added.

He went on to say that trucks, which have nothing to do with beef processing, had also been refused access by the protesters.

The rule of law

The court heard that Dawn Meats was now seeking permission to bring a motion seeking the attachment of one of the protesters and/or their committal to prison if the individual in question fails to comply with the injunction.

MacCann said that approximately 60 people are believed to be involved with the protest at Grannagh – the identities of whom were currently unknown to the company.

He pointed out that ‘Mex’ Delahunty had been aware of the injunction, and aware of the consequences of failing to obey the order.

Barrister Patrica Hill, counsel for the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) – which is not a party to the proceedings – asked the court to consider putting a stay on any order that could see any of the protesters end up in prison.

She said the IFA was seeking time to engage with the parties and see if the situation could be resolved.

The court was told that IFA had concerns about whether the farmers involved in the protests were aware of the consequences of any breaches.

Tensions and difficulties

Mr. Justice Allen, who noted what the IFA had indicated to the court, said he was mindful of the tensions involved and that the situation was most difficult.

He also pointed to the fact that while he had no difficulty at all about talks taking place between the parties, there was, however, no room for engagement or negotiations in a situation where court orders were being breached.

He said the courts had to act swiftly when orders of the court were being flouted.

The terms of the injunctions granted by the court on Tuesday are obvious to anybody with the slightest intelligence.

The judge added: “Everybody who has had sight of the orders could understand what they mean; in the circumstances, the court is prepared to grant Dawn Meats permission to bring the attachment and committal proceedings.”

Meanwhile, temporary injunctions against protesters were also granted today by Mr. Justice Allen in relation to blockades at Kepak plants, and by Mr. Justice Tony O’Connor in relation to people blockading premises at Ryland Lower, Bunclody, Co. Wexford.

The orders, similar to ones granted to Dawn Meats and Anglo Beef Processors (ABP) on Tuesday, prohibits named defendants from trespassing, obstructing, hindering or in any way interfering with access to meat plants.

Barrister Anthony Thuillier, counsel for Kepak Group, said the protests were costing the group financial loss and threatening a new multi-million-euro deal with China.