Compassion is calling for the Irish Agriculture Minister to stand down as President of EU Agriculture Council, following the news that live cattle exports to Libya are resuming this week. The resumption coincides with Ireland's Presidency of the EU.
Philip Lymbery, Compassion's CEO, says: "This is a significant backwards step by Ireland, just at the time when the country should be showing leadership at the EU level. Live exports are cruel, archaic and there is no place for them in modern Europe."
Given this horrifying news, Compassion in World Farming is calling on Simon Coveney, the Irish Agricultural Minister, to stand aside from his role as President of the EU Agriculture Council when animal welfare is on the agenda. Compassion feels that it is inappropriate for animal welfare debates to be presided over by a country that is engaging in a trade which is both cruel and in breach of the EU Treaty.
Philip adds: "We urge Ireland, even at this eleventh hour, to think again and pull out of this brutal trade in living creatures. If they do not, Ireland must forfeit its role as President of the EU Agriculture Council when animal welfare is being discussed. A country that is cynically ignoring the EU Treaty's provisions on animal welfare is unfit to lead EU decision-making in this area."
According to newspaper reports, a shipment of nearly 3,000 cattle will leave Waterford, Ireland for Libya this week on board the Al Mahmoud Express. Irish cattle sent to Libya may well suffer during the long sea journey which takes at least a week.
In addition, they can be expected to suffer once they reach Libya. Investigations in recent years have revealed extremely poor treatment of animals during transport and slaughter in the countries of the Middle East. There is a danger that conditions in Libya will be similar.
On arrival in Libya the Irish cattle will likely be crammed onto an overcrowded truck that will take them on a stressful journey to their final destination - a feedlot or slaughterhouse. Animals that are injured or sick after the long voyage from Ireland are unlikely to receive any veterinary care - they too will be packed onto the truck.
Irish cattle sent to Libya are very unlikely to be stunned before slaughter. Their throats will be cut while they are fully conscious and they will be left to bleed to death.
Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides that "in formulating and implementing the Union's agriculture [and] transport ... policies, the Union and the Member States shall "pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals".
Ireland's proposed exports to Libya are in breach of the Treaty as it is clear that Irish cattle are likely to suffer greatly in the course of this trade. This trade is not paying "full regard" to animal welfare; indeed, it seems to be largely ignoring the well-being of the animals and paying virtually no regard to their welfare.