Five heifers shot by soldiers as part of bankruptcy seizure
Animals were ‘wild and dangerous’ and could not be caught, says official assignee
Five heifers were shot dead by soldiers on a farm in Co Monaghan on Tuesday as part of a bankruptcy seizure, it has emerged.
The Red Limousin heifers, on John Hoey’s farm, Annacroft, outside Carrickmacross, were killed by members of the Defence Forces after attempts to move them failed.
Mr Hoey was declared bankrupt in February and, his assets were seized by Chris Lehane, official assignee in charge of bankruptcies.
Most of his herd was removed, but five animals proved difficult to catch and, with the approval of the Department of Agriculture, were shot in situ.
Mr Hoey said he was working on his farm on Tuesday morning. His partner and six-month-old son were in the house when he heard shots.
He said he walked out and saw eight armed men shooting. One of the animals was still alive and running through the meadow, he said. The animal ran out on to the road and was shot “stone dead”.
“These are calves I would have pulled from the cows myself, my own calves I bred on the farm,” he said. He claimed he would have got €5,000 for the animals if they were sold and said that if he had been asked he would have taken them in, because they would have followed him.
“These are boys down from Dublin, trying to get the cattle, inexperienced people; they were here last Monday for eight hours, ” he said.
“Why didn’t they tranquillise the cattle if they wanted them that badly? Some of them have five or six holes in them to the head; it’s a disgrace. I’m gutted.”
Mr Hoeysaid there was suspicion of tuberculosis in the herd but the five heifers had not been tested. He acknowledged the Criminal Assets Bureau had investigated him.
Mr Lehane said that in the interests of the cattle, public safety and to prevent the spread of tuberculosis locally, he “very reluctantly” approved the cull, following consultation and approval from the Department of Agriculture.
He said it was not in his interests to kill cattle and he would not have done it without first having “exhausted every other possible avenue”.
He said he had visited the farm over many weeks and had carried out extensive TB testing, in conjunction with the department. The tests were positive, which restricted what could be done with the animals, under TB protocols. He said the “wild and dangerous” cattle were in large fields and he used experienced cattle assistants to move them, sometimes unsuccessfully.
Mr Lehane said gates were repeatedly opened, “involving cutting of chains”, leaving the cattle wandering the roads, endangering the community, road users and themselves. He had got repeated reports from gardaí of cattle wandering and had to travel to Monaghan to secure the field, he said.
He said 15 cattle were stolen and the removal of the remaining five was not possible “due to security issues over persons involved in previous removals, of which An Garda Síochána are aware”.