Meat factories reject claims country is 'days away' from running out of beef
A farming organisation has warned shoppers to "stock up" on beef - sparking a swift denial from meat processors that the country is on the brink of a shortage.
Meat Industry Ireland (MII), which represents the meat factories, insisted: "We are not yet at the stage of white shelves in the domestic market."
It comes after the president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Association, Edmond Phelan, advised consumers to stock up on beef immediately because of the protests.
He claimed: "We are only days away from beef disappearing off the shelves.
"The big supermarkets will have no beef before the week is out unless there is a major breakthrough on this protest.
"Retailers can no longer bury their heads in the sand because they have happily colluded in the ongoing squeezing of farmers' margins to the point now where beef farmers are going bust."
Just 10pc of Irish beef is destined for the home market.
And MII said some customers in export markets had not been served in recent days because of the blockades at processing facilities here.
"Ongoing illegal blockades of beef processing facilities is having a serious impact for staff, customers and genuine farmer suppliers with cattle to process," it said.
Some 17 plants are now affected by the demonstrations, with some fully blockaded by protesting farmers.
The Irish Independent last week revealed the country's largest beef processor had exhausted all its stocks of fresh meat at two of its plants.
In the High Court yesterday, TD Peadar Tóibín interrupted proceedings against a number of beef protesters by seeking to make representations on their behalf.
But the Meath West TD was told by the judge hearing the case that he had no right of audience in the court.
Mr Tóibín stood up in the public gallery during the call-over of cases and said he wished to inform the court that some named defendants had not been served and had no knowledge of the proceedings against them in relation to a protest at Liffey Meats, Ballinasloe, Co Galway.
Mr Justice Anthony Barr told Mr Tóibín he had no right to speak on their behalf and the politician left the court soon afterwards without any further attempt to participate.
The judge said that he would be ensuring proper service had been made on anyone against whom the court contemplated making any orders.
The court heard Liffey Meats would not be proceeding yesterday against the defendants in whom Mr Tóibín had expressed an interest. They will be facing injunctive applications on Friday next.
Meanwhile, the judge granted orders restraining three other defendants from unlawfully protesting, trespassing or intimidating customers, suppliers or staff at Liffey Meats plants.
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