The killing of five heifers by Defence Forces soldiers during a bankruptcy seizure on a farm in Co Monaghan on Tuesday has been described as "pretty horrific" by an animal rights group.
The Red Limousin heifers were shot dead, with the approval of the Department of Agriculture, on John Hoey's farm at Annacroft, outside Carrickmacross, after attempts to move them failed.
Mr Hoey was declared bankrupt in February and, his assets were seized byChris Lehane, official assignee in charge of bankruptcies.
John Carmody, spokesman for the Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN), told Newstalk Breakfast that the animals should have humanely been put down.
“It was pretty horrific to be quite honest with you, and we’re taking issue with the department and authorities for not doing anything to save the lives of these animals,” he said.
“If they weren’t going to be re-homed and if they were going to be killed, then at least they could have been humanely put down. It didn’t end nice to be quite honest to you, and I hope to god this is the last of it and lessons can be learned from it.”
Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny said repossession linked to bankruptcy were traumatic events "but this heavy-handedness cannot be tolerated".
“It smacks of the bailiffs during the Great Hunger. Surely there was an alternative to killing animals when they did not fit into a trailer.”
Most of his Mr Hoey’s herd was removed from the farm, but five animals proved difficult to catch and, with the approval of the Department of Agriculture, were shot in situ.
Mr Hoey 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.
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”.
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.