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Call for Garda investigation into pig massacre
24 June 2005
(Updated: 20 July 2005)

ICABS has this week called for a Garda investigation into what has to be one of the most horrific instances of animal cruelty ever perpetrated in Ireland Ė the massacre, involving a stun gun, sledgehammer and attempted suffocation, of 4,300 pigs on a Waterford farm in 2002.

This horrendous barbarity was, shamefully and shockingly, presided over by Department of Agriculture officials. We understand that the Department ordered the slaughter because they found a banned substance on the farm. The farmer who carried out the killing is claiming that he couldn't get the animals slaughtered properly in an abattoir or factory due to his farm being the subject of a Department of Agriculture restriction order.

According to reports in the Sunday Independent and Ireland on Sunday (June 19th 2005), a video was filmed of the gruesome slaughter, which was apparently overseen by officials from the Department of Agriculture. What is really astonishing is that a very senior official from the Department was quoted in Ireland on Sunday as follows: "...I saw nothing on the video to suggest that anything illegal occurred." And in the Sunday Independent, he is quoted as saying: "The secondary role was to oversee the efficiency of the slaughtering process. Two of our veterinary inspectors did inspect the situation and found no cause for concern." Apparently, their primary concern was that the product did not find its way into the food chain.

Two men alongside slaughtered pigs
One of the shocking photographs published in Ireland on Sunday. Two men stand alongside just some of the victims of the Waterford farm pig massacre.

The Ireland on Sunday report outlines how the pigs, scraping desperately at the side of a concrete cell can be seen shaking violently as blood drains over their faces on to the floor, and how others were, in many cases, ineptly stunned and left to suffer a slow and horrific death, as other animals looked on and awaited their own gruesome end.

It also states that the stun guns over-heated and ceased to function properly. At this point, according to a vetís report referred to in the Ireland on Sunday article, the farmer claimed that the Department of Agriculture officials suggested that he attempt to suffocate a group of pigs en masse by sealing off the air supply to their houses and when this plan failed, that the Department officials looked on as 50 animals were slaughtered with sledgehammers.

In response to this claim, Minister for Agriculture, Mary Coughlan, issued a written answer on June 30th to several Dail questions tabled by TDs, as follows: "An official of my Department observed the herdowner use a lump-hammer to slaughter a small number (5) of the pigs and ordered the practice to cease immediately. The implement was seized and only returned to the farmer when the entire process was completed. With regard to the attempted suffocation of the pigs, records indeed show that the herdowner was legally instructed to maximise the ventilation capacity of his units in order to minimise the negative welfare impact associated with increased liveweight capacity of the units. Department veterinary staff did not report any attempt to deliberately deprive the pigs of air."

ICABS has written to Minister Coughlan, calling for a full investigation into this horrific incident. We want to know why officials from the Department of Agriculture allowed this carnage to take place when it was clearly in breach of animal welfare legislation.

We are also calling for animal welfare legislation to be removed from the remit of the Department of Agriculture and assigned to another department such as the Department of the Environment.

Victims: Thousands of pigs like these were brutally killed on the Waterford farm as Department of Agriculture officials looked on.

Agriculture Minister questioned over pig massacre

Agriculture Minister, Mary Coughlan, has responded to a series of Dail questions relating to the massacre of pigs on a farm in Waterford. Please click on the link to read the full text of the Dail Q&A.

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