After ten years of wrangling, a dispute dubbed the Irish Barbecue has been settled for €22m (£14m) between insurers and the Irish Agriculture Department.

Insurers had refused to pay the department's claim for €26m (£16m) worth of EU intervention beef destroyed in a fire at the United Meat Packers plant in 1992.

The lead insurer, Allianz's French office, claimed it had previously informed the Irish broker, Mike Murphy Insurance Brokers, that it was cancelling its participation so was no longer on risk at the time of the fire.

The other insurers involved, led by Cornhill Insurance and St Paul Re, claimed that they had not been informed of Allianz's withdrawal.

They also claimed that they had not been informed of earlier irregularities at the United plant.

The case led to 16 High Court actions, involving around 70 insurers and brokers over the past ten years.

Last week both sides came to an agreement and the case was struck out by the High Court by mutual consent.

The insurers agreed to pay the government €22m(£14m); the government had refunded the EU €25m for the beef after it was destroyed. All sides agreed to carry their own legal costs.

Opinion was split over what the costs might have come to had the case gone ahead, with the Irish government putting the figure at €30m (£19m) and insurers claiming it was likely to be much lower.

Insiders said that the case would have been finalised much earlier had it not been conducted by the Irish government's in-house legal team, which sources said found it difficult to cope with the volume and complexity of the case.

"It wasn't until the government handed the case over to a commercial legal team two years ago that it really started moving," the sources said.

Controversy had also dogged Mike Murphy in his role as broker. Murphy has faced no legal repercussions despite his central role in the case.

Yesterday the broker issued a statement saying: "Mike Murphy Insurance Brokers has been dealing with this claim for the last ten years to bring it to a successful conclusion and are pleased to note that the claim has now been settled to the satisfaction of all concerned."