By Anne Campbell
Better co-operation between farming communities and agencies such as the agriculture department and Gardai is required to beat cattle rustlers, a meeting heard last week.
The emergency meeting at Mullabouy was called by Louth IFA chairman Matthew McGreehan in the wake of the theft of ten cattle from a farm in Jenkinstown earlier this month.
More than 100 farmers and members of the rural community attended the meeting last Thursday and heard from Louth Gardai as well as the IFA.
Mr McGreehan said he was very happy with the large turnout and people had come from all over Louth, Cavan, Monaghan, Meath and even Sligo. The farmers' leader said the meeting gave people an opportunity to 'vent their anger and frustration' and to build a consensus about the best way forward.
Mr McGreehan said: 'There was a lot of anger and frustration in the room and farmers feel the rustling has to stop and are willing to be more vigilant from now on in order to stop the thieves. In addition, we want the Gardai to take a more proactive approach, which, in fairness, they have said they will.
'Gardai have a good team in Monaghan that deals with the animal rustling issue and we would like to see something similar in Louth. Also, there is a need for a better inter-agency approach, with the Gardai, the PSNI, the agriculture department and others working together to ensure that rustling stops'.
The Louth chairman met with department of agriculture officials and Gardai in Carrickmacross last Friday, after the meeting at Mullabouy, and said this was 'informative and positive'. He said: 'I think the turnout at the meeting proved to the agencies that farmers are seriously concerned about this issue'.
Gardai at the North Louth meeting spoke to farmers about the benefits of enhanced security measures such as beams and sensors and about letting neighbours and other farmers know about any suspicious activity that they notice, either by phoning or texting.
Farmers also agreed that Gardai could make a point of stopping cattle trailers that a moving at unusual hours of the night.
Mr McGreehan said: 'It wouldn't be common for legitimate farmers to be moving cattle at three or four in the morning, so I don't think anyone legitimate has anything to worry about if Gardai are stopping cattle trailers at unusual times'.
It wasn't established at the meeting what rustlers are doing with the livestock they steal.
Mr McGreehan said: 'Certainly, some are going to slaughter and there have been a number of illegal abattoirs discovered over the past few years, but legal factories and the department inspectors who work there have to be more hands on about any suspicious animals they find, though there have been improvements in this regard. Overall, we feel that progress has been made'.