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Kepak workers told to stay home as protests continue without Beef Plan

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*Photograph: John Mangan

Kepak employees at Tiermaclane have been asked not to go to work as the meat processing plant plays home to a protest by beef farmers across Co Clare.

On Wednesday night, the Beef Plan Movement formally walked away from the Clare protest which has been ongoing since last Thursday. Yesterday, word filtered through that employees had been temporarily laid off at the site which was previously John Kelly Meats. 14 factories across the country have since closed due to the protests.

Joseph Woulfe, Chair of the Beef Plan in Clare was initially responsible for the organisation of the protest and putting personnel in place in shifts for a fortnight to take to the picket line. He described the events as “truly unique” and confirmed the protests would continue but in the absence of the group.

In a statement to The Clare Echo, Joseph outlined that farmers expressed their desire for the group to walk away. He described the turnout of people on Wednesday night as “extraordinary”. “The protest numbers have jumped and jumped, I could only guess that 150 or so were there on Wednesday night. The entrance to Kepak is quite large for articulated lorries but the crowd of people there was so large that you could not see the ground, it reminded me more of a swarm of bees. They want to protest and they have the entitlement to do so under the constitution of the State for a reasonable length of time but that does not have a definition of an ending point”.

“We in the Beef Plan tried to talk to the people but they want to protest, we have to respect that, the protest has been going on for 24 hours a day since the 1st of August in a peaceful manner. They told the Beef Plan to go away last night, they as individuals want to protest. We took down the Beef Plan signs and said publicly we are leaving, Gardaí, management in Kepak witnessed that late last night. I Joseph Woulfe and the Clare committee of the Beef Plan have retracted from the protest as of late last night. The protest continues and as I passed on my way to Ennis it looks like they will be there forever”.

Members of the Beef Plan had spent 192 hours at Kepak for the duration of their involvement in the protest. Farmers are set to continue to hold the picket line at Tiermaclane over the weekend.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Páraic McMahon is a freelance journalist and broadcaster currently working for numerous national and local publications including The Clare Echo, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, RTÉ, TheJournal.ie, The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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