Threats from illegal 'cattle rustling' continued in north Louth this week when six cattle were stolen on the same day a new cross border agency to tackle the growing problem was set up.
The animals were reported stolen from the Ravensdale area in the early hours of Friday morning last, and included four bullocks and two heifers.
A black jeep with stolen plates was spotted in the area around the time the six Angus cattle went missing.
Meanwhile, a cross border task force of gardaí, PSNI officers and the investigative units of the Departments of Agriculture in both jurisdictions has been established to investigate the spate of cattle rustling in the border counties.
Minister of State for Rural Development Ann Phelan confirmed on Friday last the North-South liaison group was investigating thefts, while a recent Garda and Department of Agriculture investigation uncovered an illegal abattoir near the border.
She called on people living along the border area to be 'vigilant' against any cattle thefts, which she said could reduce the impact.
The setting up of the new agency follows concerns raised by Louth deputy Seamus Kirk who said he had 'too many broken-hearted farmers standing in my constituency clinic complaining about this issue', adding, 'We seem to be able to do nothing about it.'
Deputy Kirk highlighted the 'serious intensification of activity in this most nefarious area' recently, affecting farmers in Louth, Monaghan and Armagh.
'These livestock are disappearing off the face of the earth. Quite clearly they are going into illegal abattoirs because the traceability system established over a period of time is quite robust.
Given the fact there are Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine inspectors in legal slaughtering premises it is very hard to imagine they allow unvouched and unvalidated livestock into the food chain.'
He added: 'Many beef farmers are in dire financial circumstances because of the prices available for their produce over the past six months and longer.'
'Now we have an added dimension whereby farmers who buy cattle at the mart find they are gone from the field the next day. It is costing tens of thousands of euro.'
The Ravensdale theft is the second reported cattle theft in Louth this month following the theft of eight cattle two weeks ago.