The Minister for Agriculture has described the activities of protesters outside his department yesterday as "intimidatory tactics".

Michael Creed said the protesting farmers outside the department during the first scheduled meeting of the Beef Market Task Force were "outside the normal parameters of engagement" and "acceptable norms of behaviour".

Mr Creed said a minority of people had prevented the task force from meeting and their activities should be condemned.

Asked by Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley if he would contact C & D Foods in Co Longford to seek to have an injunction against two protesters stood down, Mr Creed said his Department did not have the ability to waive injunctions, but he confirmed he had contacted the ABP Group about the issue.

He pointed out that the factory in Longford was not party to the agreement reached in September, which would see legal actions stood down.

A group of almost 50 farmers blocked a delegation from Meat Industry Ireland from entering the department to attend the inaugural meeting of the task force yesterday.

The MII delegation was shoved and pushed and verbally abused by the large group of farmers, before leaving the department.

The task force has been suspended until further notice.

Independent TD Michael Harty asked the Minister to commission a fully independent investigation of the beef processing industry.

During questions to the Minister in the Dáil, Mr Harty said the investigation should ensure companies are operating to the satisfaction of his department in a transparent manner in relation to pricing, employment law, VAT rules and to ensure meat plants are not abusing their near dominant monopoly.

Mr Creed said the task force provides much of the scope needed to examine the issues raised by Mr Harty.

The minister said any legislation of non-compliance with tax issues is a matter for Revenue and should be reported to authorities, likewise with competition issues.

The Clare TD said farmers were being paid a below-the-cost of production price for a premium product and were the only ones in the process loosing money. 

He said: "If this is the case there must be something very rotten in there."