Update: Army marksmen had no alternative but to shoot cattle, says Junior Minister

Update: Army marksmen had no alternative but to shoot cattle, says Junior Minister
One of the dead animals.

Update 8.22pm: A Junior Minister has tonight defended the shooting dead of five cattle by Army marksmen earlier today.

Speaking on behalf of the Justice Minister, Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton, said that the measures were necessary and followed protocol.

“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,” he told the Dáil.

“It is not correct, as has been alleged, that the cattle were treated inhumanely or that this case involves the operation of debt collectors.”

He added: “The protocol between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defence was invoked and the animals were culled by Army personnel in line with the protocol.

The Cork East TD later stated: “The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed that the carcasses of the five cattle have been removed and are now excluded from the food chain.

“It is clear, Deputies, that very specific and difficult circumstances arose in this case, and that it was a matter for the Official Assignee to discharge his legal responsibilities as best he could in those difficult circumstances.

“In doing so he relied on the services of other State agencies who performed their functions in accordance with their remit. It is clear from the comments which he has made, and after consulting with various agencies, that he did not believe any alternative viable strategy could be adopted.

He added: “I accept, of course, that, it is a matter of regret that it did not prove possible to dispose of the cattle in another manner.

“I hope Deputies can appreciate that the actions taken in this case by the various agencies involved would not have been taken lightly or where realistic alternatives existed.”

Earlier:

A farmer whose five cattle were killed by Army marksmen has said he is angry at the loss of his animals, and how they were shot.

Speaking to Cork 96FM's Opinion Line, Monaghan farmer John Hoey said he had been working on his farm on Tuesday morning at about 11am when he heard shots being fired in the distance.

He walked up through the farmyard and said he saw a patrol car driving past.

He walked into the farmhouse, looked out the front window and saw four cattle running across a meadow in front of the house. He ran out and saw gunmen firing shots. He said three heifers dropped dead in front of him. One other ran the opposite direction, and stopped. He said he ran towards her, but she too was shot dead.

My Hoey said he did not know the Army had been called in to his farm as part of a debt-collection exercise when it had proven difficult to round up the cattle. He said eight men had been shooting.

Authorities said the animals had TB, had bolted free and could not be caught by normal means, but My Hoey denied that they were infected, and added he could have brought the animals in "in 10 minutes" had he been given the opportunity to do so.

The animals were part of a herd being seized as part of bankruptcy proceedings at the 200-acre farm. Farm equipment and other animals in the herd were previously removed from the property.

My Hoey said each of the five dead heifers was worth €1,500 each.

"If you are trying to help a man out (with his debts), I don't know where shooting animals comes into it," he said.

In a statement to the Irish Farmers' Journal, the official assignee in bankruptcy Chris Lehane said he had made the decision to have the cattle killed after failing to remove all the “wild and dangerous (with) experienced cattle assistants”.

“As Official Assignee I have a duty to recover value from assets of bankruptcy estates and it is clearly not in my interests to kill cattle, nor would I do it, without firstly having exhausted every other possible avenue open to me to resolve the problem,” he said.


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