Minister says cows shot during bankruptcy seizure were 'not treated inhumanely'

Killing of five animals by Defence Forces in Monaghan has sparked criticism

Minister says cows shot during bankruptcy seizure were 'not treated inhumanely'

Screengrab from Irish Farmers Journal footage shows cattle shot by army

Updated: 10.10pm

A government minister has dismissed allegations that cows shot dead during a bankruptcy seizure in Monaghan were cruelly treated. 

The five animals were culled on Tuesday morning at the farm of Mr John Hoey in the Annacroft area.

The heifers were shot by members of the Defence Forces after failed attempts to move them. 

A number of TDs today raised concerns about the incident, calling for an investigation into the shooting. 

“Repossession of property due to bankruptcy is always traumatic but this heavy-handedness cannot be tolerated," Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny said.

"It smacks of the bailiffs during the Great Hunger. Surely there was an alternative to killing animals when they did not fit into a trailer."

However, Minister of State David Stanton told the Dáil that it was "not correct" to suggest the cattle were inhumanely culled.

"Some of the public comment about the case – and, in particular, offensive suggestions which have been made about the role of the Defence Forces – has no basis in reality," he said.

Mr Stanton said he hoped TDs could appreciate actions in the case "would not have been taken lightly or where realistic alternatives existed".

"It should also be noted that this was a TB-restricted herd," he said. 

Animal rights activists

The Defence Forces said the animals were "humanely destroyed" due to a "significant concern for public safety".

The official assignee in charge of bankruptcies said in a statement to the Irish Farmers Journal that he took the decision after failing to kill the “wild and dangerous" animals with "experienced cattle assistants”.

“I have a duty to recover value from assets of bankruptcy estates and it is clearly not in my interests to kill cattle, nor would I do it, without firstly having exhausted every other possible avenue open to me to resolve the problem,” Chris Lehane said.

Earlier, John Carmody of the Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN) told Newstalk Breakfast that the group took issue with authorities for "not doing anything to save [the cows'] lives".

"If they weren't going to be re-homed and if they were going to be killed, then at least they could have been humanely put down," he said.

"It didn't end nice to be quite honest to you, and I hope to god this is the last of it and lessons can be learned from it."