Ratheniska farmer Enda Fingleton has been involved in the Beef Plan Movement protests at Meadow Meats Rathdowney since day one.
“We started at 5am with 10 or 12 people. We tried to talk to everyone going in. Some turned around and left, some wouldn’t.
"After that, numbers at the gates increased and, as time passed, more of the people bringing in livestock were prepared to listen to us,” he said.
“We’re polite, there’s no shouting or swearing or roaring. We outline our problems to drivers and ask them for their support. Most of them have turned around and left.”
Fingleton is one of two men appointed to represent the Beef Plan Movement in talks with factories.
“We’re learning a lot on the protests,” he said.
“We noticed that a lot of the stock were coming from Tipperary. We concluded that the factory is targeting farmers from Co Tipperary, who wouldn’t know Laois farmers.
“On Tuesday, two lorries went to enter the factory, one approaching from each side. They told us they had farmers’ cattle and that the farmer needed to move them.
"But when we looked in the trucks, we saw there were mart stickers on the backs of the cattle. They weren’t farmers' cattle.”
Fingleton expects that factory throughput last week will fall by up to a third.
“Some farmers are telling us that they have been offered €4/kg for bulls. That was for stock to be killed in Athleague on Friday last.”
Farmers on the protest are putting in a huge amount of time, he said.
“We have full-time and part-time farmers and some non-farmers. Some fellows are staying at the picket all night and then going on to work the next morning.
“We want discussions with Meat Industry Ireland representing the factories. We won’t talk to management of any individual factory.
"Eoin Donnelly and myself are the points of contact in the Beef Plan Movement.
"We’re prepared to sit this out, so they’ll have to come and talk to us.”
Enda Fingleton is southeastern regional chair for the Beef Plan Movement.
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