Farmer mediators ‘endorsed to represent 10 picket lines’

A group of four farmer mediators have been selected to represent the concerns of individual protesters that have held pickets at 10 factories across the country, it has been claimed.

Following a lengthy meeting with protesters from a number of individual pickets lines at a hotel in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, last week, it is understood that four men were selected for the positions.

The mediators claim to now represent protesters that have held the following factory picket lines: ABP in Ferrybank, Co. Waterford; Dawn Meats in Carrolls Cross, Co. Waterford; Kepak in Drumquin, Co. Clare; Dawn Meats in Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo; Liffey Meats in Hackettstown, Co. Carlow; Dawn Meats in Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath; Dawn Meats in Rathdowney, Co. Laois; ABP in Clones, Co. Monaghan; Kepak in Ballymahon, Co. Longford; and Dawn Meats in Grannagh, Co. Waterford.

In a statement, the mediators group said that while eight of these picket lines have stood now “for now”, they remain “totally opposed” to the Irish Beef Sector Agreement that was accepted by stakeholders during last weekend’s beef sector reform talks at Agriculture House in Dublin.

The mediators say the protests have stepped back to allow for “new talks to convene on a better agreement” for beef farmers – however, a large number of other protests have stood down over the last 48 hours in a bid to consider the current agreement that is on the table.

The mediators said: “Eight of the factories have agreed to step back to allow talks with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to take place straight away.

“However, two of them – Ballymahon and Clones – have agreed to step down one hour before this meeting is due to start.

“We reserve the right to picket and protest again if talks fail.

These protest lines are totally opposed to the agreement; they want new talks to address their concerns.

“They stayed on the pickets because they don’t agree with the agreement – this is now a ceasefire to facilitate talks,” the mediators said.

Agreement

As it stands, there has been no suggestion from Government, or any of the stakeholders involved in the talks to date, that an alternative deal could potentially be brokered.

At last weekend’s talks all parties – including: Meat Industry Ireland (MII); the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA); Macra na Feirme; Independent Farmers’ Organisations of Ireland; Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA); Beef Plan Movement; the Irish Natura Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA); and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) – agreed to a two-strand deal which includes a number of changes to in-spec industry requirements, the establishment of a Beef Market Taskforce and an immediate scientific review of the Quality Payment Grid.

However, it has been made clear by MII that the agreement will only enter into force following the cessation of all protests and blockades.

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