Racing Panorama investigation: Irish authorities deny knowledge of ‘thousands’ of racehorses sent to UK slaughterhouse | Race News
Posted On July 20, 2021
Irish government officials have denied being aware that “thousands” of former racehorses, previously trained in Ireland, have been sent to be slaughtered in British slaughterhouses.
A BBC Panorama program claimed on Monday that most of the 4,000 racehorses killed in British slaughterhouses had been transported from Ireland, with some having traveled more than 350 miles by road with serious injuries.
It is illegal under Irish and European law to transport a horse in a manner which is likely to “cause it undue injury or suffering”.
The secret recording also appeared to show serious violations of slaughterhouse regulations. The Food Standards Agency, which regulates slaughterhouses, has said “respecting the welfare of animals, the safety and authenticity of the food we eat is a top priority for the government” and pledged to take action against any evidence of animal abuse.
A number of Irish government officials appeared before the Joint Agriculture, Food and Marine Committee on Tuesday.
Agriculture Department Deputy Chief Veterinarian Michael Sheahan said: “For me, probably, the most striking issue was in the whole area of horse slaughter.
“The images of the Swindon slaughterhouse are probably what struck me the most.”
The footage captures dozens of horses apparently shot by a worker standing a few feet away.
Mr Sheahan told the committee that the slaughter method is not used in Ireland. He said he had been involved in horse slaughter for 20 years, adding that the number of horses slaughtered in Ireland varies from year to year.
Ireland currently has two licensed slaughterhouses, one of which was closed following a fire at its premises.
He added: “I am happy to say that we are very happy with the way things are working in the slaughterhouse here.
“They are regulated in much the same way as a beef slaughterhouse or a sheep slaughterhouse.
“We have a full-time Department of Agriculture official veterinarian present at all times when the slaughter is taking place.”
Independent Senator Ronan Mullen said what came out of the show was “extremely disturbing.”
“The image we’re getting lately in Ireland is that we could be a nation that loves horses, and while there may be people in horse racing who love horses, there seems to be a lot of people in the horse racing industry who don’t like horses, ”he added.
“They see them as machines and entities to be used to make money. It’s hard for us to believe that you are very surprised at what happened in the documentary last night.
“I think most people will feel like you had a fair idea for a while that this sort of thing was going on.”
Dr Kevin Smyth, deputy secretary general of the department, said he had “no idea” what was going on.
“I knew absolutely nothing about it until I saw what was going on last night,” he added. “I had no idea.”
Mr Mullen also criticized the traceability system in place for horses, accusing officials of not pursuing an animal welfare program “vigorously”.
Mr Sheahan said there was “a need to move forward” with plans to update the regulations this year, adding that the traceability system in the horse sector was “far from being” as well. good than that of cattle.
“We have a Rolls-Royce system when it comes to cattle. In horses we don’t have one, but we’ve come a long way.”