Beef factories in many parts of the country are making plans to re-employ staff and start production again on a staggered basis from next Monday.

The decision follows the stepping down of over a dozen meat plant blockades in the last 24 hours.

However, some protests remain in Co Cork and Co Cavan.

Earlier, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan had a short, private meeting with some members of Meat Industry Ireland, at their request, at which they updated the minister on the current state of play at the factory gates.

It comes as a former president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) said the Minister for Agriculture will have to personally monitor the day-to-day implementation of the deal on beef prices drawn up between meat factories and protesters if a repeat of the blockades is to be avoided.

Pat O'Rourke was speaking to farmers at Ballymahon in Co Longford, after four more protests around the country were stood down overnight.

Mr O’Rourke said farmers were genuinely worried about the effect of Brexit on the price for beef they will be paid this autumn, but Minister Michael Creed would have to assure them that EU supports and compensation would be available.

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The Independent Farmers of Ireland group says protests in Charleville, Grannagh, Ballyhaunis, and Watergrasshill came to an end last night, and protesters in Clones and Ballymahon, Co Longford, gave notice they would leave the blockades in the run-up to talks on the beef price proposed with Mr Creed.

The final protesters also left ABP Cahir.

It is understood the factories involved will not resume operations, however, until all sites have been cleared.

Independent Farmers Ireland said: "When this group is added to Slane, ABP Ferrybank, Slaney, Nenagh, Rathkeale and Roscrea it is quite clear that the majority of the protesters have decided that the proposal agreed last Sunday, while not ideal, provides the best blueprint for the future.

"The Independent Farmers of Ireland wish to thank all the brave men and women who walked these protests and who made the difficult decision to stand down tonight. They started this process for the greater good and clearly tonight they followed the same course. Hopefully over the weekend other protests will decide to follow the same course of action and perhaps next week we will all be able to return our farms with a hopeful view to the future," said a spokesperson.

Read more:
How the farmers are being talked down
Processing resumes at Slaney Meats in Wexford
Protesters at ABP plant end blockade of Cahir factory
First beef row blockade lifted at Dawn Meats

Additional reporting Fran McNulty