Longford judge fines farmer for breaches of animal welfare legislation and expresses concern over state of beef sector

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Judge Seamus Hughes

Judge Seamus Hughes

A judge has said it is "not within his pay grade to explore political agendas" after convicting a farmer for breaches of animal welfare regulations.

 

Judge Seamus Hughes said there was a cross border "issue" to be dealt with in terms of combating alleged illegal activity in the farming sector after fining a man at Longford District Court for procuring five bottles of Imozol, a remedy which is used to treat redwater in cattle.

Fifty-four-year-old Fred Wright, Barratogher, Rathowen, Co Westmeath pleaded guilty to three charges of breaching EC Regulations following incidents between May 18 and May 31.

At a previous court sitting in June, Department of Agriculture veterinary surgeon Louis O'Riordan alleged there was an element of "don't look, don't find" within the sector to deal with alleged contraventions of illegal activity within the farming industry.

At that sitting, Judge Hughes asked then Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to attend today's hearing to answer questions and concerns raised by the Department official.

A representative acting on behalf of sitting Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue was in court to hear the case's finalisation.

A statement on behalf of the minister was read out  revealing how Mr O'Riordan had been reassigned and how additional staff as well as resources were being assigned to the department's investigations division.

In mitigation, Mr Wright's defence solicitor said his client had asked a friend he had met at a mart to travel to Enniskillen to purchase Imozol in an attempt to treat two of his 65 strong herd of cattle and avert an outbreak among his remaining stock.

That came after it emerged Mr Wright had "googled" and found Imozol could be obtained north of the border on foot of bring told by a vet he would require a "certain amount of product" to rid his cattle of the infection.

Upon treating the cattle with the Imozol obtained from Enniskillen, the court was told Mr Wright,after realising the error of his ways was forced to treat his herd twice more in adherence to existing legislation.

It was also revealed Mr Wright faced having to plough and re-seed his farmland to ward off the infection.

Judge Hughes imposed fines totalling €1250 on two of the charges while taking into consideration the third offence.
He also awarded €1750 in costs against Mr Wright.