Defence Forces’ culling of heifers ‘humane’, Minister says

Sinn Féin calls for investigation into incident in Co Monaghan in which soldiers shot five cows

Sinn Féin agriculture spokesman Martin Ferris called for an independent investigation into the incident outside Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan in which the five Red Limousin heifers were shot dead by the Defence Forces after attempts to move them failed. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Sinn Féin agriculture spokesman Martin Ferris called for an independent investigation into the incident outside Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan in which the five Red Limousin heifers were shot dead by the Defence Forces after attempts to move them failed. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

There was “no basis in reality” to “offensive remarks” about the role of the Defence Forces in the cull of five heifers on a farm in Co Monaghan, Minister of State for Justice David Stanton has said.

The Minister told the Dáil “the Defence Forces carried out the humane cull of five animals on a farm in Co Monaghan due to a significant concern for public safety. It is not correct, as has been alleged that the cattle were treated inhumanely or that this case involves the operation of debt collectors.”

Mr Stanton was responding to opposition TDs who called for an explanation of apparent “wild west” behaviour.

He warned them to “be very careful in rushing to judgment about this case”. He said the official assignee in the bankruptcy case, the Defence forces, the Department of Agriculture and An Garda Síochána only acted as “a matter of last resort and in the public interest”.

Sinn Féin agriculture spokesman Martin Ferris called for an independent investigation into the incident outside Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan in which the five Red Limousin heifers were shot dead by the Defence Forces after attempts to move them failed.

‘Disgraceful’

He described the action as disgraceful and unjustified. He said suckler calves were quite wild but he knew of no case where anyone had any difficulty “with a small bit of expertise and cop on”.

His call for an investigation was supported by Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly who asked what the public safety concern was about the animals that required these “incredible” shootings. She said the incident had caused enormous disquiet among farmers, people threatened by banks, animal welfare supporters and people concerned about the way the State operates.

Fianna Fáil Cavan-Monaghan TD Niamh Smyth asked if this “wild west behaviour” was to become policy and if it could happen again. She said this was an issue for farmers across the State and the big concern was that this would set a precedent for the future.

Mr Stanton stressed that “this is a very, very exceptional case that five cattle were culled”. He said they were at the time in the ownership of the official assignee in a bankruptcy case.

The Minister said he could not comment in detail because the case had been the subject of legal proceedings the operation was carried out at the request of the official assignee, responsible for the herd.

It was done in conjunction with An Garda Síochána, the Department of Agriculture and the Defence Forces. There was a long history to the case and following failed efforts to round up the remaining five animals and with a significant concern about public safety a decision was taken “that the optimal course of action was that the animals should be culled”.

Mr Stanton said it was not possible to move the cattle or contain them by other means.