Man blamed for foot-and-mouth loses home

The Criminal Assets Bureau has sold a house and 150 acres of land belonging to the man said to have brought foot-and-mouth disease to Ireland two years ago when he smuggled infected sheep into the country.

The Criminal Assets Bureau has sold a house and 150 acres of land belonging to the man said to have brought foot-and-mouth disease to Ireland two years ago when he smuggled infected sheep into the country.

Longford House, a period property at Clareen, Co Offaly, was the home of livestock dealer John Walsh, who was jailed for illegally importing animals into Ireland in 2001.

The house was sold at auction in Tullamore, Co Offaly, this afternoon for more than €750,000.

After being imprisoned for three months over the livestock, Walsh was also subsequently convicted of tax offences and served with a demand for more than €300,000.

His property was sold because he failed to settle the tax bill.

When Walsh was jailed, Dublin District Court Judge Gerard Haughton said the consequences of his actions had “devastated” tourism and agriculture.

In a reference to the estimated tens of millions of euros lost through the affair, the judge added: “The entire country is well aware as to what occurred and will be paying for it for a very considerable period of time.”

Walsh, with an address in Carlisle, Cumbria, as well as in Co Offaly, pleaded guilty to two charges of importing 279 animals without veterinary certificates and two charges of importing without notifying the Department of Agriculture, contrary to European Union regulations.

When sentenced, he had already spent almost seven months in custody awaiting trial.

In the 2001 foot-and-mouth crisis, rigorous measures imposed by the Irish government to protect their crucial agriculture industry helped restrict the number of cases of the farm animal disease in the Republic to just one, and there were just a handful of outbreaks in Northern Ireland.

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