Creed rounds on activists over live export cruelty claims
Minister Michael Creed has rejected calls for a ban on live cattle exports following claims of animal cruelty at slaughter houses in north Africa and the Middle East.
Animal rights activists have claimed that Irish cattle were being "abused" at a port in Turkey where they were unloaded from a ship, allegedly covered in their own excrement, after a two-week journey. The cattle were then loaded into a small, open top truck, not suitable for animal haulage.
The footage, recorded by Animals International - a charity seeking to end the export of live cattle from EU countries to north Africa and the Middle East - was released as part of an undercover investigation to highlight how cattle exports to these regions are "in breach of EU laws".
In one video a chain is wrapped around a bullock's leg, he is hoisted into the air, flailing and kicking, a man then approaches and slashes his neck with a large knife. Blood flows from the wound which almost decapitates him, while other distressed cattle watch. The animal's country of origin is not known.
Andrew Kelly, chief executive of the irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) has called for an "immediate suspension" of live exports of cattle to non-EU countries. He accused the Department of Agriculture and farm lobby groups of "being in denial" about the issue.
In a statement to the Farming Independent, Minister Creed said he is "aware" of the reports and stressed that animal welfare standards in Ireland and Europe are among "the best in the world".
"Live exports are a vital component of Ireland's livestock industry and I have no proposals to ban the export of live animals. I and my Department will make every effort to promote and maintain an environment in which live exports can take place in both an economic and sustainable manner, with due regard for the welfare of all animals exported," he said.