Minister for Agriculture 'appalled' by treatment of exported calves in recent footage

Photo: Eyes on Animals and L214

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has criticised French handlers who were filmed allegedly abusing Irish cattle in Cherbourg.

After a graphic video was shared online by animal welfare groups Eyes on Animals and L214, French authorities arrested a man on suspicion of cruelty to calves.

The video showed dairy calves being physically abused, kicked, dragged by the ears, thrown and stamped on after arriving on a ferry from Rosslare in March at what appears to be a control post in France.

In a statement, L214 and Eyes on Animals said they will file a complaint for ill-treatment and acts of cruelty.

*WARNING: Graphic video*

Minister Creed, who said he has watched the video, said he hopes those involved "face the full rigours of the law".

"It's appalling and those that are involved, I understand, have been arrested by French authorities," he told C103.

That's in process now and that's right and proper and I hope they face the full rigours of the law.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) said it was "horrified and angered by the footage" and called on the Minister to launch an investigation and suspend the live export of calves to France and the Netherlands until it is complete.

"Such brutal and cruel handling of calves is completely unacceptable and must not be tolerated," the charity said.

Minister Creed said he supports the live export of cattle, stating that Irish exporters are held to a higher standard than their European counterparts.

"Live exports is a critically important part of the agricultural industry in Ireland and I am a supporter of [it]," he said.

"We operate a higher system of animal welfare regulations in the transport of cattle and calves than is the minimum requirement from the EU and we do so because it is significantly more important to us.

"I believe it is possible to have a highly regulated, animal welfare-friendly live export trade and [the Department of Agriculture] and I will have no truck with anybody who breaches those regulations.

It must be said in the context of the recent video, that it was not involving Irish individuals. It was an incident that happened, an isolated incident, in a lairage facility in Cherbourg."

The Irish Farmers Association said the footage was as upsetting for farmers as for everybody else.

"While this incident occurred in Cherbourg, France they were Irish calves. Irish farmers are outraged to see any animal being treated so badly," said IFA National Dairy Chairman Tom Phelan.

"We understand that the individual in question has been arrested. He should be subject to the full rigours of the law because his actions were wrong and totally unacceptable."

Pippa Hackett, the Green Party’s spokesperson on agriculture and animal welfare, described live export as an "unethical trade".

"Live export will only ever be as good as its latest controversy, and there have been many reported breaches in animal welfare legislation over the past number of years. These issues will not be going away any time soon," she said.

An online petition by L214 and Eyes on Animals calling on the European Commission to ban the export of young animals has received over 40,000 signatures.

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