CAB to sell foot-and-mouth culprit’s house

JOHN WALSH, the man who brought foot-and-mouth disease to Ireland, is to have his house compulsorily sold by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and is also facing a new set of smuggling charges in Scotland.

The Dunlavin-born farmer, with a residence at Clareen, Birr, Co Offaly, had received a suspended sentence for income tax fraud in May of last year, on foot of making a settlement with the Revenue Commissioners for unpaid taxes and VAT fraud.

According to RTE news, that sum is believed to have been close to €750,000.

Prior to this, he was also convicted of illegally importing 279 sheep, in January of 2002, in contravention of EU trading regulations.

He served three months in jail for smuggling. Walsh was the only person to be jailed on a charge related to foot-and-mouth in the Republic.

He had sought immunity from prosecution in return for pinpointing the exact movements of the sheep he had smuggled to Ireland from Scotland.

Minister for Agriculture, Joe Walsh made a firm stand on the issue at the time, stating that there was ‘no possibility of an amnesty for traders, dealers, or farmers who may have brought sheep or cattle illegally into the Republic’.

John Walsh went on to give full details to the gardaí and told of buying the consignment of sheep in Carlisle, in Scotland and bringing the animals to a farm in Meigh in South Armagh, where the first outbreak of foot-and -mouth disease in the country occurred. The consignment was then moved on, by night, to a Kepak factory in Athleague, in Co Roscommon for slaughter.

The fact that sheep were not tagged in the Republic at the time was a factor in the illegal movement of animals, particularly, north and south of border.

Mr Walsh became a household name following a confessional interview given to Joe Duffy on RTE’s Liveline programme, where he admitted the offence and claimed he ‘would not do it again for any money’.

He also claimed that it was the first time he had ever delivered a load over the border and when asked about his business, he replied: ‘I buy and sell sheep’

Since his release from prison, however, Mr Walsh has been charged with illegally importing animals into Britain.

The convicted smuggler was caught with 49 puppies and three kittens at Stranraer in a joint operation between Scottish police and officers from the Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

He is due to face charges of cruelty to animals and importing animals without a permit in Stranraer next October.

The CAB have now moved to sell Walsh’s property, Longford House at Clareen, Co Offaly to offset the monies due by the ex-farmer.

These include a fine of €20,000 imposed at the time of his suspended sentence and which has not been paid to date.

Apart from farming and smuggling, John Walsh also ran a hotel in Faha, Co Kerry which burned down.

Mr Walsh is now believed to be living in Britain.

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