St Johnston and Carrigans Donegal



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Donegal Meat Processors

“The Carrigans meat factory is to Donegal what Waterford Glass is to Waterford”  Senator Mc Gowan in  Seanad Éireann, May 1990.

Donegal Meat Processors abbreviated as DMP is based in Drumnashear, Carrigans, St Johnston, Lifford, Co Donegal.  Locally the company and facility are simply known as the “Meat Factory” a nickname that has been with the plant since it was first opened.

DJS Meats Ltd  was acquired by Goodman International on 14th June 1989 and a new company Donegal Meat Processors was created,  Donegal Meat Processors improved and opened up the plant that year. 

The plant was closed in 1990 owing to a legal problem raised by the  Minister of the Department of Industry and Commerce.  This provoked a heated political debate and subsequently it was reopened again. 

The company slaughters and de-bones about 1500 cattle per week.  It possesses the capacity to process 2000 cattle weekly.  The facilities for slaughtering animals were upgraded in 2003 to bring them in line with the best that modern technology and knowledge can bring.  Further upgrading took place in the middle of 2006 when machinery that does the de-boning was installed.

In 2000, the company begin to supply a similar plant in Zaandam in the Netherlands.  Through this the de-boned and processed meat was provided for sale in the Netherlands.

At the present time, 2009, the company, known as Donegal Meat Processors Ltd, employs about 180 people.  It has been a great source of employment in the St Johnston and Carrigans area which for decades has been an unemployment blackspot.

In 2009, Donegal Meat Processors Ltd found that their application to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's Beef and Sheepmeat Investment Fund was successful.  Donegal Meats Processors Ltd was one of only 15 groups to get this funding.

Due to the recession, Donegal Meats had to cease production in its boning hall in 2010.  This resulted in the loss of about 70 jobs.  The operation was transferred to a sister plant.  The losses affected workers from Donegal, Poland and Brazil.   

The website is no longer online at the time of writing.  It was


The ITGWU has expressed its concern at the long delay in recommending production at the Anglo Irish Beef Processors Plant at Carrigans.  This plant was previously operated by DJS Meats, Tallaght, County Dublin, trading as James Doherty (Carrigans) Ltd.  Anglo Irish Beef acquired the plant last June when production ceased and a number of clerical workers totalling 100 were all laid off. Following several meetings between management and union there were high expectations that work would resume soon and an EC inspection was carried out at the plant on Friday, September 15.


IFA representatives are working on proposals which they hope will lead to the re-opening of the Carrigans meat factory, which has been out of operation since last year because of a Fair Trade Commission report on the extent of the control of the beef market resting with companies controlled by Mr Larry Goodman.

Negotiations were at a "delicate stage" members of the County Executive of the IFA were told at their monthly meeting in Raphoe Tuesday night by Mr John Starrett, the County Chairman. 

Mr Starrett told the meeting that he, along with Mr Gerry Dunne, the Regional Development Officer, and Mr Geoffrey Vance, the National Council Representative, had met the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Mr Desmond O' Malley, recently about the closure of Carrigans.

He said that the Minister told them he had to abide by the recommendations of the Fair Trade investigation into the take-over of the factory by Anglo Irish Beef Processors, a Goodman controlled company.  The Minister had stated that he could not sanction the take-over until the master Meats factory at Omagh was sold to an independent buyer.

Mr Starrett reported also that they had met Mr Larry Goodman and three of his executives, including Donegal born Brian Britton in Ardee on July 20th.  The Donegal IFA deputation were told that the Goodman group wanted to re-open Carrigans, but on legal advice could not do so.

Mr Starrett said a suggestion was made which was being put to the Minister who was keeping in contact with the situation although he was away from Dublin on holidays.

Mr Vance said they ahd pointed out to the Goodman executives that the Bandon meat factory, which is also the subject of a Fair Trade Commission recommendation against takeover, was still in operation, but they were told that this was being done by the original owners in that case, whereas the owners of Carrigans had gone into liquidation.

Mr Paddy Kelly, Finn Valley Branch, said the IFA would have to take some action to highlight the issue even if it meant driving cattle around Mr O' Malley.  Mr Dunne said he believed that progress was being made on the issue.

"Negotiations are at a delicate stage.  The comment we got from Mr Goodman is that they are anxious to open the factory", Mr Starrett said.

"We must take action.  We need to have something concrete by the end of August", Mr Kelly replied.

It was also reported to the meeting that Northern Hauliers and meat factories had taken offence to comments at a previous IFA meeting which referred to Donegal farmers facing a loss of £2.50 per lamb and £12.50 per beast in transport to other factories, since the closure of Carrigans, when it was clear from the discussions that the reference was to other factories in the South of Ireland and not to stock crossing the border.


Goodman sells off plant in Donegal for nearly £10m

Published 06/01/1998  IRISH INDEPENDENT

THE FIRST of many expected changes of ownership in the Irish meat industry during 1998 has seen Larry Goodman's Irish Food Processors company sell off its Carrigans meat plant in Donegal.

Foyle Meats Group, the new owners, began slaughtering cattle yesterday at the plant located three miles across the Foyle from Derry city.

The 170 staff will continue working under the new trading name of Donegal Meat Processors.

Industry reports suggest a purchase price of near £10m, but neither parties to the deal would comment on this figure yesterday.

Irish meat companies have taken a battering since the March 1996 BSE disaster and there has been speculation for some time about processing plants changing hands.

However, a spokesman for Irish Food Processors has gone on record as firmly denying any such review of operations at the group, specifically refuting a media report that its Cahir beef plant was on the market.

Irish Food Processors sold its Bagenalstown factory to Michael Behan over a year ago but is still reckoned to account for some 25pc of the national cattle kill.

Kepak, which bought Agra Trading last year, accounts for some 18pc; Dawn has a reported 15pc; Irish Country Meats 8pc; while both Dairygold and Slaney account for 5pc each.

Foyle Meats Group is the sole Northern Ireland supplier of red meat to Tesco, having previously been a supplier to the Stewarts chain.

Owned by the Watson and Acheson families, the Foyle group's Tesco business is now worth stg£60m to a company which last year bought Omagh Meats from the former Goodman executive Nobby Quinn.

Robert Watson yesterday said the prime reason behind their purchase of the Carrigans plant was to gain access to export markets from a Republic of Ireland base.

``Even if there is a partial lifting of the BSE ban from the UK, it will still be difficult for companies there. We intend building up a new customer base from Carrigans,'' said Mr Watson.

Foyle Meats was one of four Northern firms selling beef to the Albert Heijn supermarket group in Holland before imposition of the export ban,

He rejected the suggestion the reason behind purchasing the Donegal plant was to supply Tesco's new stores in the Republic.

Mr Watson said they expected to be killing 1,000 cattle and up to 5,000 lambs per week by this spring.
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Gloom as 20 jobs to go at Carrigans meat plant

Derry Journal, 26 October 2009

It remained unclear last night if job losses at the Donegal arm of one of the North West's biggest employers would have a knock-on effect in Derry.

The Foyle Food Group, which employs around 750 people in its five sites in the North West, announced on Friday twenty workers were to lose their jobs in its Carrigans based operation Donegal meats.

The company blamed those job losses on the economic climate and the failure of discussions with the union Siptu to agree to savings at its Carrigans plant.

Last night it was unclear if those job losses would have any effect on the group’s workforce in Derry.

No one at the company's Lisahally headquarters was available for comment.

Workers in the Carrigans plant were told at a meeting on Friday the planned redundancies will come from general operatives and staff not directly involved in production.

In a statement the company said: “Talks have been ongoing with Siptu for the last ten months where management has highlighted the need for constructive dialogue to deliver the significant savings necessary to maintain the viability of the plant.

“Unfortunately to date discussions have not proved successful, therefore this is the only option open to the company. The company recognises this is a difficult period for all employees and their families and will do everything possible to mitigate the number of job losses.”

Siptu’s Branch Organiser Martin O’Rourke said he was disappointed at the news “especially at this time of year".

“Our thoughts are with the workers, many of whom have very long service and now face an uncertain future," he said.

Donegal Farmers Visit Foyle Food Group Plant in Carrigans

On Tuesday, July 31st 2012, over 60 farmers from Donegal were welcomed for a visit to the Foyle Food Group, processing plant at Carrigans, Co. Donegal, where over 1500 cattle are processed each week. The Foyle Food Group are the primary processors of beef across three sites in the North West of Ireland and specialize in slaughtering, deboning and rendering.

The staff provided a very warm welcome and their infectious enthusiasm certainly impressed the visiting group. More information, which includes some very interesting facts, will follow early next week.

In the meantime visit this website to find out more about the Foyle Food Group