Is there a dark cloud hanging over Ireland’s animal welfare policy?

Last week marked the fourth anniversary of Farm Safety Week; a wonderful initiative aimed at saving lives. And, as it was launched with a fanfare of hints, tips and themed resources around ways to prevent accidents, promote awareness and offer guidance to the farming community in order to stem the occurrences of incidents on Irish farms, members of our Defence Forces, brandishing high velocity refiles, landed on John Hoey’s farm in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan and – according to an observer’s video footage I viewed on several online news sites – opened fire and fatally, shockingly, blasted five heifers to death! Now I do know this farm is the subject of bankruptcy proceedings and yes, there’s conflicting stories surrounding this debacle, but, as I wasn’t present, I don’t know who to believe. I just saw the video. 

  However, the Irish Independent reports, ‘The official bankruptcy assignee, Chris Lehane, said that the Defence Forces were called in to assist with the cull after all other possibilities were “exhausted”.’ However, as someone who has worked with Ireland’s largest and oldest animal welfare shelter for many years, someone who has had to tackle distressed large animals in order to bring them to safety, I have some questions. I’d like to know what other alternatives/avenues were ‘exhausted’? Was a District Veterinary Officer (DVO) on site, and if so, did he/she examine the cattle and, if their slaughter was deemed inevitable, why didn’t the DVO carry out a controlled and humane method of ending their lives in private; one by one, rather than en masse, leaving them bleeding in agony on the side of the road?

  From what I observed, (again I wasn’t there), the footage shows these animals being shot at will, throughout the body, resulting in a slow, painful, horrific, inhumane death at the hands of untrained animal welfare officers/veterinarians because our Defence Forces, wonderful though they are, and I’ve enormous respect for them, are trained snipers, prepared for combat – they’re not James Herriot; nor are they glorified bouncers; lackeys, available at the beck and call of bailiffs!

  The Indo also reports: ‘The farm has been visited over several weeks with extensive TB testing carried out with the Department of Agriculture,’ quoting receiver Mr Lehane as saying: “The results of those tests proved positive in the herd, greatly restricting what I could do with the animals.” Yep, I agree, one hundred per cent; the outbreak of TB is catastrophic to other herds, humans and wildlife; I won’t go into detail.

  However, here’s what’s troubling me folks; you see, according to Lehane: “The cattle were in large fields and were wild and dangerous.” So how did he manage to get them to remain calm while he tested them for TB…I assume they were tested? And couldn’t he have used the same method to corral them last week and humanely euthanise them? Hasn’t anyone heard of tranquiliser darts?

  In addition, The Irish Times reports: ‘Most of Mr Hoey’s herd was removed from the farm, but five animals proved difficult to catch and, with the approval of the Department of Agriculture, were shot in situ.’ Now, this leads me to ask if the receiver just couldn’t be axxed corralling the ‘difficult to catch’ cattle and took the lazy option to annihilate them? Also, if there was indeed TB in the herd, why were the rest of the cattle removed off site? You see, something stinks here and it’s not pungent smell of nitro-glycerine!

  This monstrous display of cruel, unusual, abhorrent behaviour by our authorities and those who should know better has made world headlines, with the BBC broadcasting it to all and sundry, highlighting just how horrifically some individuals/organisations treat helpless, innocent animals. Those who instigated it should be utterly ashamed of themselves. I’m sorry John Hoey got into financial difficulties and lost his possessions; life is bloody hard, but a decision  to massacre these beautiful, helpless cattle in such a horrendous fashion without apparently any thought for the safety of those nearby, or for the welfare of the animals is very destabilising for our society.

It’s just emotions that’s taking them over!

It was a case of 50 shades of grey last week…grey hair that is, as aul lads across the sporting fraternity got totes emosh over the game. First we had soccer stalwart (and my former Evening Herald colleague) Johnny Giles leaving his post, or rather getting the red card from  RTE,  who appear to have made a right balls of things by not renewing his contract, bringing the 75-year-old veteran’s 31-year association with the station to a sad end. The move resulted in (sometimes) grumpy grinch Eamon Dunphy touchingly calling his old friend, “the greatest football man we’ve ever had and nearly that’s ever been on these islands.” Aaahh Eamo, how generous…bless.

  Then we had a classic ‘get a room’ moment as injured Ronaldo, wallowing in a Paul Gascoigne(esque) whingefest, got locked in an embrace with his mentor,  grizzled Scot and erstwhile Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, as, practically skinny-dipping in each others’ tears, the pair celebrated underdog Portugal’s Euro final triumph. Seriously lads, get a grip, I can’t handle this mush!

Do I need more Girl Power? Zig a zig nah!

While Mel B is reportedly not giving up hope that the Spice Girls will have a reunion, I’m not giving up hope that they won’t. Ya see, I’ll tell ya what I want…what I really, really want; and that’s NOT to have these bickering harpies, who flashed their kacks, gave the V sign and hailed harridan Maggie Thatcher as the original champion of girl power back in the 90s,  spicing up my life, thanks very much. You see the one who can actually hold a note, Sporty, and the one who lip syncs, pouts and points at things, Posh, are allegedly uninterested; meaning that with only George Michael’s on-off mate Ginger, ‘talent’ judge Scary and radio host Baby being the only mingers, sorry singers, keen to revive their now well-worn ode to girldom, I’m afraid five will just have to become three for these aging wannabe opportunists.