Chinese inspection to be facilitated in Athleague

Additional reporting by Claire Mc Cormack

An agreement has been reached between protesters and management at Kepak Athleague to accommodate an inspection by Chinese officials at the Co. Roscommon factory today, Wednesday, September 4.

The agreement follows hours of talks between representatives for the two sides, assisted by an independent mediator.

Under the deal, it is understood that 150 cattle and 1,000 sheep – all sourced locally – will be allowed into the plant to facilitate the audit.

The farmers have agreed to allow the inspection to proceed in full, allowing the delegation of officials to examine the processing procedure at the plant.

It is also understood that a fixed number of trucks will be allowed in and out of the site.

AgriLand is told that the deal also includes a commitment from the factory to engage with Beef Plan’s upcoming producer organisation (PO) – if/when it is ratified by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The development follows on from failed attempts at conducting an official inspection – aimed at increasing market access for Irish beef and sheepmeat in China – at the plant last Monday morning, September 2.

Oireachtas committee to meet today

Meanwhile, on a wider scale regarding ongoing beef protests, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed it will reconvene later today in an effort to “work a way forward”.

Speaking to AgriLand, chairperson of the committee, Pat Deering, said: “We have had a number of different requests from different members and non-members of the committee and we are going to decide what is the best way forward.”

It is understood Michael Dowling will be asked to come before the committee to give an overview of the talks that took place and suggest where he might see a way forward.