The Beef Plan national committee, which was stood down by Eamon Corley and Hugh Doyle in January, claims to have suspended Eamon Corley from the organisation.
In the latest twist between the two factions of Beef Plan, the committee, which says the co-chairs had no authority to step down the committee, established a Disciplinary Sub Committee has notified Corley of his temporary suspension from the organisation.
The Disciplinary Sub Committee was set up to investigate and make a decision around his “actions and involvement in a WhatsApp group titled ‘Silage Testing.”’
According to the group, Corley has breached a number of rules of governance and brought the association into disrepute.
“This has left the Disciplinary Sub Committee with no option but to recommend a five-year suspension from Beefplan Movement.
It has called on Corley to return all company property to the group and hand over control of all the Whatsapp pages, which the Beef Plan has used to communicate to its members since its establishment.
At the same time the Eamon Corley-led side has posted to the Kerry Beef Plan facebook page that Dermot O Brien should be removed from membership with immediate effect, barring him from contesting the county’s AGM.
It comes after co-chairs Eamon Corley and Hugh Doyle confirmed they will step away from overall leadership roles after the organisations AGM next month.
In a statement reacting to the 'suspension', Hugh Doyle and Eamon Corley said it was 'effectively incorrect'.
"The group that claims to have suspended these people had no authority to do so.
"The former temporary National Committee was stood down in any case they were timed out according to the Rules of Governance on Jan 15th. These rules were signed off by all 4 directors.
"They are now effectively a Committee posing as a Beef Plan committee. This committee has no entitlement to set up a disciplinary committee.
"Any decision made by such a rogue disciplinary committee is not binding.
"Circulating any material to suggest it is , is damaging to the Authentic Beef Plan National Committee elected under the rules of Governance. It also only serves to confuse and mislead farmers," the statement read.
The emergence of two national committees has led to widespread confusion among members.
However, Dermot O'Brien, a spokesperson for the 'stood down' national committee, said the co-chairs had no authority to step down the committees and the group passed a motion of no confidence in Corley and Doyle at a meeting in Portlaoise on January 26.
According to O'Brien, representatives from 16 counties met in Tullamore at the weekend and elected an interim chairman, vice-chair and secretary, who he says will remain in place until a new committee is formed.
"Members are very confused at the moment, but we plan to keep the organisation going," O'Brien said. He also said the members want answers to questions around membership numbers. "We need accountability. We have repeatedly requested answers, and we have not been afforded these answers in relation to membership lists."
In a letter to all members last Thursday, February 6, Corley and Doyle claimed the families of some Beef Plan members have been the victims of "blackmail, intimidation and unfounded reports of malpractice" in recent days.
The letter also stated that the national committee of Beef Plan were "looking at their legal avenues" regarding this incident.
Mr Corley said that members must unite if the Beef Plan Movement is to succeed but that it might be necessary to expel some members for the good of the overall organisation.
"If I disappeared [from Beef Plan] today I don't feel that I would have made a significant difference. I am still very passionate about the organisation. I probably won't lead the organisation after the AGM, but I would like to be involved in some way, maybe on the national committee," he said.
"Whoever does lead the organisation going forward will have to have the respect and goodwill of the members and the members will have to feel that they can trust those people to represent them and take their view on board."
Members from both sides of the Beef Plan feud attended a meeting in Cavan last Saturday week when it was agreed that mediation would take place between the two groups.
Beef Plan claimed in last Thursday's letter to its members that the "old national committee" had decided not to attend this mediation. Mr Corley said that expelling feuding parties from Beef Plan now "is a possibility".
"It is not something that anyone wants to do, but if that's what it takes to have a functional organisation, then it is the right thing to happen," he said.
The Beef Plan co-chair said that the "actions of a few people" should not prevent committed members from putting themselves forward for leadership roles in the organisation.
"I think 90 per cent of farmers are appreciative of the work that their leaders do. There is a lot of good to be gotten out of representing farmers and trying to improve the lot of farmers in general," he said.
"I don't think that the actions of a few people, which have become negative for one reason or another, should stop people from putting themselves forward to represent farmers. Now more than ever, we need to be represented by good people."
Mr Corley, who is also the chair of the new Emerald Isle Producers Group, says his vision for the future of Beef Plan is for a more structured group which is responsive to the needs and opinions of farmers.
"We need to be a grassroots organisation that listens to the farmers and works from the ground up," he said.