FIVE farmers have received suspended jail sentences ranging from two to six months for breaches of the Department of Agriculture disease control regulations relating to the movement of livestock on farms near the border.
The five faced a total of 207 charges, but pleaded guilty to 60, at a special sitting of Carrickmacross District Court, Co Monaghan. The remainder were struck out.
The charges related to breaches of cattle movement regulations and herd records between April 30 and November 16, 2010.
The farmers, who were also ordered to pay a total of €6,000 in costs to the Department, were Aidan McCooey, senior (56), of Derrycreevey, Castleblayney; Aidan McCooey, junior (28) of Tullycollive, Castleblayney; Brendan Conlon (58) of Drumacrib, Castleblayney; Bernard Conlon (30) of Oram, Drumacrib, Castleblayney and Martin Conlon (28) of Hillview House, Oram, Castleblayney.
Judge Alan Mitchell said the court wanted to send out a very strong message that any breaches of the Department regulations, which were in force to protect the national herd and the Irish livestock industry against disease, would be severely dealt with, and those involved could expect severe penalties.
In a plea for mitigation before the sentencing, Kenneth Connolly, counsel for Aidan McCooey senior, said McCooey had lost his entitlement to EU farm support payments, and would have to repay €14,365 to the Department of Agriculture as a result of the prosecution.
Department of Agriculture investigations officer John McConville told the court that an inspection of livestock on lands used by Aidan McCooey, senior, led to the discovery of an animal that was from another herd in Co Mayo.
He said further farm inspections showed "a mix of animals" on other land, for which the five men were responsible.
A number of the cattle found on a separate farm, for which there were also breaches of the regulations, belonged to the three Conlons.
He said a herd register, which was produced for inspection by Aidan McCooey, junior, had an incorrect date relating to the movement of livestock.