Balaclava-clad protesters join meat plant demo
Dawn Meats said it was a ‘sinister and unsettling development’.
Gardai have been contacted after balaclava-clad protesters gathered outside a meat plant in Kilkenny.
Dawn Meats called officers in after a number of masked individuals appeared at the picket outside its plants in Grannagh.
Protests have plagued the sector for weeks as farmers picket the gates of meat producing plants across Ireland over the price of beef, which is at its lowest in years.
Many farmers claim they are struggling to survive and will be forced out of business without Government intervention.
An agreement was reached between farmers and beef processors following 30 hours of talks, organised by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed over the weekend.
The use of balaclavas to hide the protesters’ identity is a sinister and unsettling development Dawn Meats
On Wednesday, protesters hiding their identity with balaclavas continued their protest at Dawn Meats.
Protests over the past three weeks forced the firm to temporarily lay off more than 300 workers at the plant last week.
The company said farmers who wanted to sell their factory-ready cattle were unable to deliver them for slaughter, and it was unable to fulfil customer orders on which the factory and the livelihoods of its employees depend.
A spokesman for Dawn Meats said: “The use of balaclavas to hide the protesters’ identity is a sinister and unsettling development.
“It demonstrates that these people are well aware of the illegality of their actions.
“It is depressing that the law of the land can be openly disobeyed with impunity.
“If these protesters genuinely felt that they had right on their side, they would show their identities and face the consequences of their actions. Instead they leave local farmers unable to sell their animals, and hundreds of staff without work.”
Dawn Meats claims it has also noticed masked protesters outside its Meadow Meats facility in Rathdowney, which faces possible closure if protests continue.
The spokesman added: “Dawn Meats remains firmly of the view that it is only through all stakeholders in the industry working together to grow demand for Irish beef, attract new customers and enter new markets that the current challenging pricing environment can hope to be addressed.”
It comes a day after the country’s leaders hailed the agreement settled on by all groups, as the country’s agricultural population and its supporters descended on the annual National Ploughing Championships.
President Michael D Higgins said he was pleased a deal had been reached.
“A great deal has been learned and I hoped as well that the public would be better informed and people would know what is behind the farmers’ wishes to know what they’re entitled to and what would be fair distribution between producer, processor, retailer and consumer,” he said.
“I want to be supportive to those trying to seek a resolution to all of this, a very good beginning has been made, and a good deal of effort has been put in and that is an achievement in itself, and well worth building on and supporting.”
Irish Premier Leo Varadkar called for an end to the ongoing protests and blockades outside meat processing plants.
“The protests were successful in highlighting the issues affecting beef farmers, they did bring the industry to the table, but all that can be achieved from protests and blockades has now been achieved,” he said.