A Limerick farmer was fined €3,000 and ordered to pay €2,000 in costs after he pleaded guilty to six breaches of Department of Agriculture regulations designed to prevent the spread of bovine TB.
A special sitting of Fermoy District Court in Co Cork heard yesterday that Patrick Keane, from Labbamologga, Ballylanders, had his farm locked down on Jun 20, 2012.
John McConville, a veterinary inspector with the department’s special investigations unit, said restrictions on movements of cattle in and out of Mr Keane’s farm were put in place after it was discovered that four animals on his land had come from a herd in another county which had a severe TB outbreak. Later, while the restrictions were still in force, Mr McConville said Mr Keane had taken in 25 other animals.
Defence solicitor Ciarán O’Keeffe said his client had done this only to oblige another farmer who was taking the cattle to a mart when the lorry carrying them broke down.
Mr McConville added that the animals were then moved back to their owner in Co Tipperary before Jul 5, 2012, and again this breached the non-movement restrictions which were still in place.
He said the regulations were needed because “it was dangerous to the national herd when there was no traceability”.
Judge Tim Lucey also heard there were animals present on Mr Keane’s farm which were not logged on his herd register, which is a legal requirement.
He was also told that Mr Keane breached legislation requiring him to inform the authorities within seven days of any movements of cattle onto his farm.
Mr O’Keeffe described his client as a “small time (cattle) trader” and “small landholder”.
He said Mr Keane appreciated the need for regulations and was pleading guilty.
“He’s pretty much ‘pin to his collar’ and has problems with financial institutions. He’s single, in his late 40s and lives at home.”
Judge Lucey said, at the end of the day, Mr Keane was clearly in breach of restrictions, but fortunately “it didn’t result in any innocent party getting their herd wiped out”.
He added that, as Mr Keane had been fully co-operative with the Department of Agriculture investigation, had pleaded guilty and had no previous convictions, he wouldn’t be imposing a jail sentence.
Instead he fined him €500 on each of the six breaches of regulations and agreed with Geri Silke, counsel for the department, that he should also pay their costs of €2,000.
Judge Lucey said the fines and costs would have to be paid within four months.
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