More protesters could face jail if they do not agree to abide by court injunctions granted by the High Court preventing the blockade of facilities belonging to Dawn Meats.
The company was today granted leave of the High Court to serve copies of motions seeking to attach and commit to prison 16 protesters at two of its beef plants for breach of court orders.
Counsel for Dawn Meats told Mr Justice Anthony Barr that blockades of its facilities at Grannagh in south Kilkenny and Rathdowney in Laois were ongoing.
A total of 16 people are expected to present themselves at the High Court when the matter is dealt with on Friday, otherwise they could face being arrested by gardaí.
Unusually, nine of the men were named as John Does during the proceedings.
The High Court was told they could not be identified, but pictures of them outside the Dawn Meats plant at Grannagh were presented to the court.
Seven men are also named by the company as being involved in a blockade of Dawn Meat's Rathdowney meat processing facility.
In an affidavit submitted to the court, Dawn Meats alleged that one of the protesters ripped notice of a High Court injunction from a pole outside the plant in Rathdowney and burned it, to loud applause from other protesters.
Photographs of the incident were presented to the court.
Judge Barr granted leave to serve today's orders by affixing copies of the orders to wooden placards and wooden notice boards at the sites.
He said he was concerned about the safety of summons servers, who may be drawn into a situation of conflict.
The judge directed that that service could also be made by posting the court's orders on the Dawn Meats website.
The attachment and committal applications were returned to Friday at 11am.
Dawn Meats said protesters engaging in the illegal blockades outside its facilities were "damaging the interests of the employees who want to work, farmer suppliers who want to sell cattle, and valued customers who want to buy Irish beef".
In a statement issued tonight, the company said: "In its application to the court, Dawn Meats stated clearly that it did not wish to see protesters jailed, provided they stopped their illegal blockades."
The protesters named and identified in court today are to attend court on Friday to answer to the court for the breach of the injunction.