Animal welfare activists protest against live cattle exports

Resumed shipments to Libya involve gruelling 10-day journeys, say campaigners

Members of Animal Rights Action Network protesting outside the Department of Agriculture in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Collins/Colin Keegan

Members of Animal Rights Action Network protesting outside the Department of Agriculture in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Collins/Colin Keegan

 

More than 100 people protested outside the Department of Agriculture yesterday over the reopening of the live cattle trade to Libya, and vowed to step up their campaign in the coming weeks.

Libya banned imports from the EU in 1996 because of the BSE outbreak but recently lifted the ban. The first shipment of almost 3,000 Irish cattle went to the Middle East in February and was welcomed by farmers and Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

The Animal Rights Action Network (Aran) and Compassion in World Farming led yesterday’s protest outside Mr Coveney’s office. Aran campaigns director John Carmody said most Irish people would be horrified at the resumption of long-distance live cattle shipments.

“The animals have to endure a gruelling 10-day journey to a country where the Department of Foreign Affairs has advised Irish people not to go. But they are happy enough to send Irish cattle there in all weather extremes.”

Mr Coveney has said the current Irish regulation in relation to the approval of ships for livestock transport set a higher standard than that which applied in other EU member states. “And this is justified not only on sound animal welfare reasons but also because it reflects the nature of the shipping routes from this island.”

Mr Carmody said the same arguments about regulations were made about the meat industry and “the horse meat scandal is a perfect example of how regulations fail”.

Farmers have welcomed the reopening of the trade but Mr Carmody said they had survived without the Libyan trade for many years, “so there’s no reason why they can’t continue on with their business.”

He said this was just the start of a campaign to stop the “barbaric” trade. “In the coming weeks we are getting thousands of our supporters across the country to contact their local TDs and to contact the Minister’s office in Cork, and we have a peaceful demonstration planned for his constituency office.”

Libya was an important market for Irish live cattle exports in the past, taking 81,420 cattle valued at more than €70 million in 1995.

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