Wednesday 13 December 2017

PAC to view video showing slaughter of thousands of pigs

John McGuinness
John McGuinness
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Members of the Dáil spending watchdog are to view harrowing footage of the slaughter of more than 4,000 pigs as part of its probe into the running of a special investigations unit at the Department of Agriculture.

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman John McGuinness said it had sought access to the video after a 'behind closed doors' briefing from two farmers about their experiences of being investigated by the unit.

Last year, the department set up a new investigations division after a number of controversial cases involving the unit.

These included one case where a judge described its behaviour as "heavy handed" and "less than fair".

Mr McGuinness said the committee was looking into millions of euro in spending associated with legal cases taken by the investigations unit against individual farmers.

One farmer told a private session of the committee last week that he slaughtered 4,000 pigs in inhumane circumstances under the supervision of a department official.

Mr McGuinness said the PAC had been told a video of the slaughter existed. It is now seeking a copy of the video ahead of a hearing on the special investigations unit next month.

Representatives of the department, the special investigations unit and the chief state solicitors office have been invited to attend the hearing.

"The members were shocked and taken aback by the description of the killing of the pigs and the fact this man did it on his own under the instruction of department vets while they looked on," said Mr McGuinness.

Another committee member, Fine Gael TD Patrick O'Donovan, said the allegations were "probably the most disturbing thing" he had heard since entering Leinster House.

Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald said the farmer's account was "more than alarming".

Irish Independent

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