Only three individuals have been jailed from over one hundred animal welfare cases prosecuted before the courts since the Animal and Welfare Act 2013 came into operation.
That is according to figures provided by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed on the operation of the Animal Welfare Act to Sinn Fein’s Eoin Ó Broin.
In a written Dail reply, Minister Creed confirmed seven persons have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment and that these sentences were suspended in four cases.
Minister Creed also stated that fines in excess of €60,000 have been imposed while the Probation Act was applied in eight instances.
The Minister also revealed that 16 persons have been disqualified from keeping animals under section 58 of the Act.
Minister Creed stated that a number of cases remain before the courts and further files have been sent to the Chief State Solicitor with a view to be instituting proceedings.
He stated that other files are currently being examined in his Department with a view to pursuing a prosecution.
Minister Creed stated that the Act came into operation on March 6th 2014 and replaced a number of enactments dating back over a century.
Minister Creed told Deputy O Broin: “My policy and the policy of the Government has always been clear and consistent. Where instances of abuse, cruelty or neglect of animals are encountered, evidence is gathered and those responsible are prosecuted through the Courts.”
One of those to recently escape jail in an animal welfare case was west Clare farmer, Martin Gerald Foley (66) of Lislanihan, Kilkee.
In March at Ennis Circuit Court, Mr Foley who dumped 12 carcasses from a 300 ft high ‘spectacular’ west Clare cliff-top and left other animals in his control to die in excruciating pain walked free from court.
Judge Gerald Keys imposed an 18 month suspended jail term for the dumping of 12 animal carcasses over Cliffs at Baltard, Doonbeg in west Clare in April 2014.
Mr Foley also paid over €7,372 to cover the Council costs of disposing of the animal carcasses and the clean up operation.
Judge Keys also imposed an 18 month suspended jail term for 20 sample animal neglect charges out of a total of 193 charges first brought against Mr Foley “to reflect the seriousness of the offences”.
Judge Keyes imposed a life-time prohibition order on Mr Foley having any animals in his care.
Judge Keys stated that he could see no benefit in jailing Mr Foley as he is no longer a threat to animals and is no threat to society.
The Dept of Agriculture was spared a €25,000 bill to clear all horses from the lands of Mr Foley after Mr Foley disposed of all of the remaining horses on the lands.
The animal welfare charges relate to cattle and horses at locations in west Clare at Lisdeen, Lislanihan, Donoghboy, Dough and Baltard on dates between March 2014 and April 2016.