Attempts to save the beef sector were under way on Wednesday. Minister Michael Creed met separately with processor and farmer representatives in the wake of the factory closures and temporary redundancies announced over the previous 24 hours.

The seventh week since protests at factory gates began has seen the dispute move into its most serious phase. Meat Industry Ireland refused to sit down with farmers, walking away from talks on Monday. It insists illegal blockades at factory gates must end before it re-engages. The protesters are now standing outside empty gates, as processing comes to a halt.