07 April 2005

Daily Ireland

**This is your hamburger and roast. Is it worth it?

Concern for live exports

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click to view - live animals, strung up by one leg before having their throats cut

Animal welfare groups in the Republic have called on the government to withdraw its support for the live transport of animals from the state.
The Irish branch of Compassion in World Farming made the call after an in-depth investigation into the transport of cattle from Waterford to the Middle East.
Campaigners say the transport of animals by road and boat to Lebanon, although entirely legal, places unacceptable stress on the animals.
The Stop the Bull Ship campaign received a boost at its European launch in Brussels yesterday when the English actor Joanna Lumley echoed calls for the practice to be brought to an end. Trading live animals is currently subsidised by the European Union.
Campaigners were forced into action after monitoring a shipment of cattle that left Waterford in October last year. During loading at the city’s port, cattle were herded onto a ship using electric prods, a practice that the Irish government says should be avoided.
After enduring several days at sea, the animals finally arrived at the Lebanese port of Beirut. From there, they were transported to a government-run slaughterhouse.
Video footage secretly filmed by investigators revealed shocking conditions in the high-rise slaughterhouse. After being tied by one leg to a “slaughter line”, rows of terrified Irish cattle were killed by having their throats cut without first being stunned.
From an ear tag recovered at the slaughterhouse, the animals were later traced back to farms in the South of Ireland.
Mary-Anne Bartlett, director of Compassion in World Farming in Ireland, said the practice of transporting animals should be abolished.
“It is shameful that our government supports live cattle exports to the Lebanon. Anyone who cares about animals can see that this trade is inhumane and should be stopped. The export refunds that are fuelling this trade should be abolished immediately. Such refunds are a serious misuse of taxpayers’ money.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture in Dublin said department veterinary inspectors clear all animals transported from the Republic.
“Live exports are an important component of Ireland’s livestock industry, and the department is aware of the social, moral and economic imperative to ensure that the transport of animals is conducted in a manner which safeguards their welfare while being transported and minimises the risk of transmitting infectious diseases.
“The department, on a number of occasions, has sent veterinary inspectors to the Lebanon to witness the unloading of Irish cattle and to verify that the animals are unloaded and treated in a humane manner. On one occasion, a veterinary inspector identified that the loading of cattle was unsatisfactory. The department addressed this with the cattle exporter and the ship owner and has received guarantees that the matter would be addressed.”
The representative added that the transport of animals would continue even if the Republic or the European Union banned the practice.
“It should also be pointed out that an EU ban on live exports to the Lebanon would not necessarily mean that exports of cattle to that country would cease. Sourcing would take place elsewhere and could involve the shipment of cattle under conditions far less exacting than those existing under Irish law,” the spokesperson said.

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