Ireland's live export shame will continue this weekend as another ship is reportedly set to take more than 3,000 cattle to Libya.
As well as the welfare problems inherent in transporting animals such long distances, Compassion is greatly concerned by the possible treatment the cattle will receive at their destination.
Previous Compassion investigations looking into slaughter conditions in North Africa/Middle East have found:
- animals being roughly - even brutally - handled
- animals dragged into the place of slaughter
- cruel methods of handling e.g. people severing the leg tendons of cattle with knives in an attempt to control them.
As far as we are aware, the Irish government has no safeguards in place to ensure the country's cattle won't be subjected to this sort of treatment at the end of their gruelling journeys.
Australia, which has the world's largest live exports trade, has put systems in place to try to ensure that, when they arrive in their destination country, Australian animals are treated in accordance with the international recommendations of the World Organisation for Animal Health on welfare during transport and slaughter. Even with those measures in place, the trade still causes great suffering .
Ireland has no such systems and appears to be content to leave its animals to a cruel fate once they arrive in Libya.
Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs "advises against travel to Libya at this time" because of the dangerous security situation in Libya. Clearly this advice does not extend to cattle even though the Irish authorities know full well that conditions in Libya's slaughterhouses are likely to be horrific. Last year we produced footage showing immensely cruel slaughter of cattle in next-door Egypt. Sadly, conditions may well be similar in Libya.
No example for Europe
The resumption of live exports from Ireland to North Africa is a poor example for Ireland to set during its Presidency of the EU. We are therefore calling not only for an immediate halt to these exports but for the Irish Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to step aside when animal welfare issues are discussed at EU level until the exports stop.
The Lisbon Treaty requires all EU member states to pay "full regard" to animal welfare. By allowing this trade to resume, Ireland is breaching the Treaty.
Compassion is joining the Animal Rights Action Network for a rally outside the Irish Agricultural Ministry in Dublin on 24th April from 12noon to 2pm to call on Minister Coveney to end these shipments.
- Call on the Irish government to stop the trade immediately or step aside from the Presidency of the EU Agriculture Council when animal welfare is being discussed.