The President of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) Colm O’Donnell is calling for a mediator to be appointed to break the deadlock position currently unfolding between the Beef Plan movement, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.
On the one side you have the Beef Plan holding a peaceful protest picketing a number of factories and MII putting a precondition to suspend the picket prior to the onset of talks. Added to this the Minister for Agriculture has offered round-table talks to the Beef plan but again conditional on a temporary lifting of the picket, which according to the media is being rejected.
If this is the case then a professional mediator must be appointed immediately to meet all parties, set terms of reference for talks to commence as the current impasse is having a devastating impact on all fronts.
Sheep farmers by default have become embroiled in the dispute particularly in the North West where you have the highest number of new season lambs now fully fit for Slaughter and in danger of falling out of factory specification on weight and fat score. While these farmers continue to support and respect the picket, as a matter of urgency these farmers genuinely need to have access to the market without delay. This is unacceptable given that sheep plants in other parts of the country are unaffected.
In conclusion the farmers Leader again reiterated that a mediator be put in place without preconditions to set terms of reference for dialogue to commence without further delay.