Exports rise: at what cost?

Following on from dialogue with cattle farmers across county Wicklow, the Ruairí Ó Brádaigh/ Maolmhuire Ó Raghallaigh Cumann of Republican Sinn Féin released the following statement:

The news broke earlier in the year that a return to live exports of livestock to the Middle East would signal a boost for the Irish economy of over €64 million. ICSA President Gabriel Gilmartin stated “live exports were absolutely essential for ensuring strong cattle prices”. After a decade Irish cattle are being exported to North African shores once again. Countries such as Libya, Lebanon and Egypt have seen an influx of Irish cattle in the past year.

However, local cattle farmers in the county are very wary of these developments, and rightly so. Upon meeting with us they expressed their concerns. They stressed that their concerns had nothing to do with religion or creed but rather the welfare of the livestock they have reared. The reality is the cattle headed for these destinations are are shipped by boat for 15 days. Upon landing these cattle await Halal type slaughter, which basically means they are slaughtered without stunning. The Free State government has tried to play this down by highlighting the stringent regulation placed on the livestock. However after the arrival of the livestock into these countries the government’s regulation is powerless. It has also not been well documented in the Free State media that the Australian government recently suspended all exports to Egypt. This was following on from it’s findings over the manner in which the livestock were being slaughtered. Australia has suspended live exports of cattle to Egypt and proposed “major reforms”, after video footage of animal cruelty at two Egyptian abattoirs was given to the Australian Government on Wednesday 1 May 2013.

The message is clear to cattle farmers in county Wicklow: if you have concerns regarding where your cattle are ultimately headed for, query your cattle dealer. In the last 12 months the combined value of meat and livestock exports in the Free State increased by almost 6% or almost €160m to reach almost €3.1 billion. Local farmers are worried that the reputation of their product will be tarnished by this debacle. We stand in solidarity with them in this regard.

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