48 hour protest underway outside Slaney Meats
The 48 hour protest outside of Slaney Meats in Ryland, Bunclody may be extended according to Wexford County IFA Chairman, Pat Murray.
Speaking from the protest on Monday, November 10, Mr Murray said there were currently around 100 farmers at the protest but that numbers swelled to almost twice during the early hours of morning.
‘We have around 100 farmers here at the moment and the farm women are coming in later on to show their support. On the night of Sunday, November 9, we had almost 200 people here.
‘The farmers are very determined. There’s a €350 gap between Irish and UK beef prices’, he said.
Mr Murray said public support for the protest is high with many people realising the value of agriculture.
‘At the end of the day agriculture creates a lot of job. Here in Wexford we produce 10 per cent of the country’s beef output. It’s a very important industry and creates a lot of jobs.
‘Beef prices are in the doldrums. UK prices have moved on in recent weeks but the Irish prices haven’t.’
Mr Murray said there is a lot of anger on the ground among farmers.
‘We are very determined and there’s a lot of anger on the ground here. There’s a feeling that the protest should be continued past the 48 hours. We’re due to finish at 3pm on Tuesday, November 11 and we’ll see where it goes. Some farmers here want to continue on.’
Mr Murray said although the weather was inclement it wasn’t affecting spirits at the blockade.
‘It’s a very, very wet day here but spirits are high. We’ve a Christmas tree here, bonfires and plenty of coal which we are burning in tar barrels. We have a stove going in one of the trailers. I’ve never seen a determination like this and the number of people turning up here is fantastic.
‘All 53 IFA branches across Wexford are involved.’
Rory Fanning of Slaney Meats said the protests have effectively closed down the business because they can’t bring cattle into the factory. He said the meat industry had sat down with the IFA last Friday, November 7, and a ‘lot of progress was made’.
He said he is hopeful that a further meeting planned for Wednesday, November 12, will bring about a resolution.
Slaney Meats is the only independent meat factory affected by the blockade with the rest of the blockades taking place outside the three key players in the market, ABP, Kepak and Dawn Meats. Mr Murray said Slaney Meats is the largest independent meat factory in Ireland.
Mr Fanning said he is a little puzzled as to why they are the only independent factory being picketed saying that in the league of payments they were ‘always listed in the top three payers’.
Meat Industry Ireland said the nationwide protests are unacceptable, irresponsible and says it will damage Ireland's reputation.
It also said the protest will leave up to 10,000 people out of jobs during the two day protest.
A similar one-day protest, mounted just 13 days ago, is estimated to have cost the industry more than €10m in lost output.
Irish Farmers' Association President Eddie Downey said the action of farmers was justified in light of the horrendous losses they have suffered all year while the factories have grown their businesses.