Protesters descended on Kildare Street in Dublin today to protest against the resumption of live exports of cattle from Ireland to Libya.
Two shipments of more than 3,000 cattle are reported to have left the port of Waterford for Libya since exports started up again in February after a hiatus of more than 15 years.
Compassion joined with Ireland's national animal protection group, ARAN, to address protesters outside the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Besides the welfare problems inherent in such long distance transport, the risks of poor handling and inhumane slaughter when the animals arrive in Libya are very real. Irish cattle sent to Libya are very unlikely to be stunned - rendered unconscious - before slaughter. Their throats will be cut while they are fully conscious and they will be left to bleed to death.
The Irish trade is a worrying development in Compassion's fight against long distance live transport.
Campaigns Manager James West, who addressed the crowd at the rally, says: "It was heartening to see such a good turn out today. Long distance transport of live animals is unnecessary and causes great suffering.
"This practice does not belong in modern Europe and we joined the protest today to urge Simon Coveney, the Irish Agricultural Minister, to reconsider the decision to allow these shipments. In addition to the gruelling journey, once Irish cattle are unloaded in Libya neither the Irish government nor the farmers who have sold their animals into the trade can guarantee their proper treatment.
"There is a very real possibility of poor handling and inhumane slaughter in Libya, causing considerable stress and suffering to the cattle."
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".
Compassion feels Ireland's proposed exports to Libya are in breach of the Treaty as it is clear that Irish cattle are likely to suffer in the course of this trade.