Beef Plan issues guidelines for farmer protests

The Beef Plan Movement has issued its members with protest guidelines which, according to the movement, must be observed throughout demonstrations organised by the farmers’ organisation.

Issued ahead of a nationwide protest being organised by the group – which has already begun in Co. Cork, outside ABP Bandon – the guidelines lead with an emphasis on ensuring demonstrations are carried out in a peaceful manner at all times by all participants.

Listing what participants can and cannot do, the document, seen by AgriLand, highlights the right to protest under the Irish Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.

It was stressed, however, that the guidelines are not intended to substitute for legal advice.

Speaking about the guidelines, Eoin Donnelly of the Beef Plan Movement said:

“The Irish Council of Civil Liberties were contacted and supported us with information that helped us to compile the document.”

Guidelines

Under the list of entitlements of protesters, it was noted that “protesting in a public place that results in a certain level of disruption to ordinary life” is permitted, as is a stationary protest on a footpath, so long as members of the public are not blocked or impeded from passing.

“It is permitted to ask any individual presenting cattle for slaughter in a non threatening way to support the protest by not presenting the cattle for slaughter.”

In addition, the guidelines note that “the taking of audio or visual footage of a peaceful protest is permitted and in the interests of public safety the protest at each site will be video recorded”.

Under behaviour that will not be tolerated at protests, the organisation’s guidelines stress first off that participating in any protest does not under any circumstances permit people to break the law.

In addition, it was noted that the use of language or behaviour which could be considered threatening or abusive “to a level which could cause a breach of the peace” is unlawful.

It was highlighted that protests must be confined to public areas and passage in such demonstrations cannot be unfairly blocked to anyone wishing to pass through.

No target price per kilogramme can be asked for as by doing so it may be considered price fixing by the competition authority.

Protesters at Beef Plan events must not be intoxicated to the point of being a danger, or obstruct public highways, the guidelines note.

Finally, it was highlighted: “A protester cannot ignore instructions from the Gardaí as they have powers to ask members of the public to stop behaving in a way that would be an offence under the Public Order Act.”

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