Protesters at the ABP plant in Cahir have tonight ended their blockade of the factory.

In a statement, the group said they reached consensus to step down their peaceful protest on the basis that the draft beef sector agreement was sent to the Minister for Agriculture & Food to be addressed and examined without haste. 

Another 100 workers at a plant in Tipperary were laid off temporarily today because of the dispute.

The lay-offs at ABP Cahir in Co Tipperary are in addition to the 355 employees who were temporarily laid off earlier this week.

The Meat industry has said that despite the latest efforts to find a solution to the recent blockades, protests continue at 18 beef processing sites around the country.

RTÉ News understands that eight factories are no longer affected by the protests.

Earlier, ABP said the action was putting all jobs at their Cahir facility at risk, as well as the livelihoods of 1,300 farmers who supply cattle to the site. 

An agreement was brokered last weekend between the meat industry and seven organisations representing farmers, which was to lead to the lifting of blockades at plants in the dispute.

The talks were chaired by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.

This evening Meat Industry Ireland said that the ongoing blockades were having a negative effect on thousands of workers farmers and hauliers.

It called for the state to intervene to stop the "intimidation, blackmail and threats to staff".

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It said: "Calls by the President, An Taoiseach and several Government Ministers for these illegal blockades to cease and the Agreement to be given a chance, are being ignored.

"The illegal action of a small minority is negatively impacting the livelihoods of thousands of workers, farmers with cattle to sell, hauliers and other service providers, and is putting the entire Irish beef sector in jeopardy.

"We have now passed the point of severe long-term damage to the sector. Customers have made decisions on supply for the next two-to-four weeks. They have been forced to exclude Irish beef from their plans for several weeks ahead and instead have sourced beef from alternative suppliers across Europe and beyond.  

"Over the last number of weeks, genuine farmers have missed out on the sale of cattle for processing worth €120 million. This week is likely to see a further 30,000 cattle unprocessed leading to a backlog at this stage of over 100,000 animals that simply will not be cleared before the end of the year.

"How much longer is the State willing to allow a small number of protestors to illegally blockade facilities, endangering the livelihoods of 80,000 farmers and the jobs of 10,000 employees in beef processing?"