The ongoing dispute between the Irish Sugar Company and the Irish Farmers' Association over beet prices paid to farmers may be close to resolution after it was revealed last night that the former secretary general of the Department of the Taoiseach, Paddy Teahon, would act as a mediator between the parties.

Beet growers have been picketing Irish Sugar's beet factories at Mallow, Co Cork, and Carlow town, demanding higher farm gate prices. Ever since the company obtained a temporary High Court injunction against the IFA to stop the protest, the farmers have acted as "individuals".

A statement revealed: "The parties have indicated their willingness to work with him with a view to finding a satisfactory solution."