Liffey Meats has issued an appeal to protesters at its gates to end their pickets, saying that it had “500 employees anxiously waiting to return to work”.

In a statement, the processor said: “We would like to appeal to protesters to lift the blockades at our factory gates in the interest of everyone concerned.

“We have over 500 employees anxiously waiting to return to work; many of our 10,000 farmer suppliers want to sell their cattle and over 400 customers throughout Europe and Ireland are waiting on their delivery of Irish beef,” Liffey Meats said.

These blockades are having a hugely negative impact both locally and in the surrounding communities, and a lot of local businesses and suppliers to our business are suffering as a result.

“We are inundated with calls around the clock, from farmers who want to sell their cattle and international customers looking for deliveries,” the statement continued.

It went on: “At the same time, we are also receiving calls from concerned local and national suppliers to our business – who themselves employ from five to six people, to those who have a couple of hundred – who rely on our operations to keep them in business.”

The processor said it was “extremely disappointing” the protests had not ended following the deal that was agreed last weekend between Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and farmer representative groups.

We would appeal to the protesters to lift the blockades in the interest of all concerned and give the agreement a chance to work. This would allow us get the business moving again.

“Every day that goes by, we know that customers are actively and urgently looking at alternative suppliers in Europe for their beef,” Liffey Meats claimed.

The statement from the processor concluded: “The industry operates in an extremely competitive marketplace which is already under significant pressure, and lost business is going to prove to be very difficult to win back.”