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HomeNewsProtesters call for equine abattoir in Co Kildare to be shut

Protesters call for equine abattoir in Co Kildare to be shut

Protesters gathered outside Shannonside Foods in Straffan, Co Kildare, on Saturday morning, calling for the equine abattoir to be shut after an RTÉ Investigates programme aired last week showed footage of horses being mistreated and beaten on site.

Maddie Doyle, who has volunteered at the My Lovely Horse Rescue charity for more than a decade, said they encouraged attendees to tie ribbons on the gates of the facility in memory of horses who had been ill treated.

“It is callous. You would need a whole lot of words to describe what happened in Shannonside. It is horrific and unthinkable,” she said.

“There has been huge breaches of animal welfare. It is probably some of the worst that we have come across.

“We have had an extraordinary number of messages from members of the public who have seen the documentary. Others read about it but could not necessarily bring themselves to watch it.”

Ms Doyle was heartened at the turnout of hundreds of people for the protest.

Meanwhile, co-founder of My Lovely Horse Rescue Martina Kenny says it is time for the authorities to take decisive action.

“They need to move on it. Because the whole country is in uproar about this.”

The owners of the facility have been contacted by The Irish Times for comment. Shannonside Food Ltd is the only licensed equine abattoir in Ireland.

The Department of Agriculture and An Garda Siochana have launched investigations in to the practices at the site.

In a statement earlier this week the Department of Agriculture said it takes matters of equine welfare and the integrity of the food chain very seriously.

“The welfare of horses is protected by legislation, placing responsibility on owners and those who have animals in their possession or under their control to ensure the animals’ welfare.

“This legislation also ensures that appropriate enforcement action is taken by the relevant competent authority where breaches or shortcomings are identified.”

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue also said he was taking the matter “extremely seriously.”

“My department has already commenced an investigation in recent weeks involving the supply of equines for slaughter, with aspects of the ongoing investigation related to some of the broadcast activities. Any new allegations or evidence of malpractice or allegations of illegal activity in the equine industry that this programme has brought to light will be thoroughly investigated by my department,” he said in a statement after the programme aired.

Horse Racing Ireland, the governing body of horse racing, said its board, management and staff were “deeply shocked and appalled” by the content of the RTÉ Investigates programme.

In a statement, it said the “behaviour depicted in the RTÉ documentary is disgusting and is not the experience of the vast majority of the 30,000 people who make their livelihood in the horse racing and breeding industry in Ireland”.

Undercover cameras used for the RTÉ Investigates programme captured one of the animal welfare officers on-site inserting false identification microchips into horses and using spray paint to change the colour markings on horses.

The abuses included ill treatment of dying horses. Viewers saw horses being whipped and struck with long lengths of plastic piping.

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