Processors and farmer protesters are being called on to work together so that plant inspections can be carried out by a team of officials from China, with a view to opening further market access to the Asian country for Irish beef.

Tim Cullinan, a candidate for the upcoming IFA presidential election, and the association’s current treasurer, suggested a compromise whereby plants operated by ABP and Dawn Meats would notify protesters at factory gates in advance of when the inspectors are due to arrive, and that protesters would then allow the inspection to take place.

Cullinan’s proposal comes the day after the High Court issued an injunction against protesting farmers that would prevent them disrupting the activities of meat plants. The injunction was sought by lawyers for ABP and Dawn Meats.

The potential of the Chinese market could be very significant and farmers should leave the factory gates so as to not be blamed for any issues that may arise around securing veterinary clearance for this potentially large market.

Cullinan said that if ABP and Dawn meats notify protesters of the dates and times when the inspectors are due to come, he would call on farmers to leave the sites 12 hours in advance of the Chinese officials arriving.

“Facilitating these visits is in the overall interest of farmers, including suckler farmers who could benefit from this deal. I fully understand and appreciate the frustration and anger of the farmers but, in the circumstances, I am asking them to facilitate the Chinese inspectors as they go about their work,” said Cullinan.

He added: “Opening the Chinese market to greater volumes of Irish beef must benefit producers with a price increase.”

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTE Radio 1 this morning, Wednesday, August 28, Cormac Healy, senior director for Meat Industry Ireland (MII), confirmed that the Chinese officials had arrived yesterday, and were due to visit 16 plants around the country in the coming weeks.