THE cancellation of the first meeting of the New Beef Taskforce has been described as a “shambles” by the Limerick Beef Plan Movement.
The first gathering of of the new Taskforce was adjourned due to altercations outside the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine offices on Monday morning.
Over 40 protestors arrived in the early hours of Monday preventing a delegation from Meat Industry Ireland from entering the building for the 10am meeting.
It is believed that farmers were protesting on the claim that injunctions have not yet been dropped following the recent beef protests outside factories.
Minister Michael Creed condemned the behaviour that led to the taskforce being suspended.
“It is in the interests of everyone involved in the beef industry that the work of the Taskforce goes ahead,” Minister Creed said.
“It was a great pity that farm representatives were not in a position to air the legitimate concerns of farmers at the Taskforce.”
However, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) President Edmond Phelan said the Beef Markets Taskforce, which was established last month to try and resolve the beef crisis “cannot begin its work while injunctions hang over individual farmers”.
“ICSA decided that we could not attend the taskforce while injunctions remain in place,” Edmond said.
“ICSA does not condone physical clashes but the blame for the failure of today’s talks stands squarely with those meat processors who have so far refused to issue letters of discontinuance in respect of certain individual farmers.
“There is no way these talks will commence until all legal threats have been removed.”
Limerick Beef Plan Movement representative Paddy O’Sullivan has responded to Monday’s events calling it a ‘shambles’.
“No one should have been prevented from going to the meeting but either way, no progress could have been made, nor will be made until the injunctions are lifted,” Paddy said.
“Farmers are at an absolute all time low with prices. This has been going on 12 months, we have no idea when it is going to end and it feels almost like no one is on our side with negotiations.”
Limerick Beef Plan Movement PRO John Moloney agrees with this, and despite wanting remedy talks to progress, says that farmers are unanimous and must stand up for the three individuals who are still allegedly subject to legal action taken by meat plants.
“Last month’s agreement included that any outstanding legal injunctions would be lifted.
“Despite having liked today’s meeting to have gone ahead and there to be progress, there are a lot of bad feelings. It is hard to talk across a table with people who are taking legal action and try to come to an agreement.
“Things are bad, there is a lot of tension, farmers are struggling with prices and the market and there is such uncertainty with Brexit and it is all only going to get worse.
“But, the first step that needs to be taken is the legal action lifted.”
No members of the Limerick Beef Plan Movement were present at Monday’s protest.
The associations that are taking part in the Taskforce are the Beef Plan Movement, Irish Farmers’ Assocation, Macra na Feirme, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association, Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers’ Association and Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association. There are also members from Meat Industry Ireland and officials from the Department of Agriculture.
The meeting has been adjourned until further notice.