DUBLIN, Ireland - Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed wants all parties in the beef dispute to come back to the negotiating table.
Talks were set to resume on Monday night at Department of Agriculture offices in Backweston, County Kildare, however Meat Industries Ireland pulled out of them as meat factories around Ireland were being blockaded.
Creed said he was disappointment at Monday's developments and said he is urging the parties to engage in a positive way to resolve the current impasse:
"I have this evening engaged with the chairman of the beef talks to receive a report on today's proceedings," he said late Monday.
"Meat Industries Ireland indicated today that it is unwilling to enter talks in circumstances where factory gates continue to be blockaded. Despite this I have made the chairman of the talks available to all parties with a view to determining a basis to get the parties back to the table. I remain convinced that that the only way to resolve these significant challenges for the sector is by negotiation, and that progress can be made on key issues if the parties approach talks in a positive spirit."
I can certainly understand farmer frustration at market conditions that see many producing beef at a significant loss and of course the closure of meat plants is in nobody's best interests. I am concerned that today's events will only serve to entrench positions and risk prolonging this very damaging dispute. Processors and farmers are mutually dependent and the future of the beef sector depends on the development of a commercial relationship built on a recognition that this is the case," Creed said.
"Having met with protesting farmers from across the Country and having consulted widely with political colleagues it is abundantly clear that the nature of this protest is complex and that channels of communication are unclear. The normal channels of engagement which may apply to such disputes regrettably have not applied as effectively in this instance. I ask MII to reflect on this reality and to make every effort to avoid action that might lead to a further deterioration in relationships in what is already an intractable dispute."
"I would repeat my request that all stakeholders consider their positions carefully now, and take a step back from action that has the potential to be damaging for the sector as a whole, in order to allow space for meaningful talks to take place," the minister urged.