This year could very well see a return to live exports of cattle from Ireland to the Middle East, according to recent reports in a national newspaper.
The Irish Independent has revealed Egypt, Libya and the Lebanon are likely to permit cattle imports "giving a timely injection into the Irish agrifood sector".
The BSE crisis had stopped these exports and the prospect of them reopening is extremely worrying.
Apart from the physical stress placed on animals, long distance live transport comes with other inherent problems.
The problems with the Gracia del Mar, which was carrying more than 5,000 head of cattle from Brazil to the Middle East, were compounded when officials in Egypt refused to allow the ship to dock, leaving it stranded in the Red Sea with a cargo of dead and dying animals.
The journey is only part of the overall problem, as there is no guarantee that the animals will be treated with appropriate regard for their welfare on arrival at their destination.
Slaughter footage filmed in Egypt and obtained by Compassion last year included instances of cattle being repeatedly beaten over the head with a pole before they fell to the ground, dazed, and had their throat cut.
We have extensive evidence of animals in the Middle East being treated brutally during unloading at the slaughterhouse, while being moved to the killing area, while being restrained (e.g. the leg tendons of cattle are sometimes severed with a knife to control them) and during the act of slaughter.
Most animals in the Middle East are not stunned - rendered unconscious - before slaughter. Their throats are cut while they are fully conscious and they are left to bleed to death.
We urge the Irish government to rethink any return to live exports to the Middle East. The journeys involved are too long to be able to guarantee a satisfactory level of animal welfare and the conditions for animals in destination countries are often far below the minimum legal standards required in Ireland.
If, like us, you are worried by the possible return of live exports to the Middle East from Ireland, you can write a polite note to the Agricultural Minister, Simon Coveney, urging him to consider the animal welfare implications of the move.
- Write to him at:
Minister Simon Coveney,
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine,
- Or email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org