By Alison Healy
Gardaí seeking owners of 34 stolen animals recovered in Monaghan
Some 34 stolen cattle recently recovered by gardaí in Monaghan will be taken to marts in the midlands in the coming weeks in an effort to reunite them with their owners.
The news comes amid growing concern about the significant increase in cattle thefts in recent months. The number of cattle thefts went from 133 in 2012 to 298 last year and is no longer considered to be just a Border phenomenon.
The increase in cattle rustling led FBD to introduce cover for the theft of livestock in recent days, following feedback from its customers. It highlights the case of Donegal farmer Billy McDaid who lost seven Charolais heifers to thieves one night. The animals, kept on a farm about nine miles from his home, were worth from €1,000-€1,200 each. He offered a €1,000 reward, but they were never recovered.
Some 48 cattle were reported stolen in Co Monaghan last year, up from 13 in 2012, and 38 in Limerick, up from 13 in 2012. Mayo saw cattle thefts go from nine to 34 in the past two years.
Wexford and Wicklow were the only counties that did not report cattle rustling in the two-year period.
Charles Flanagan, Fine Gael deputy for Laois/Offaly, raised the issue with the then Garda commissioner Martin Callinan earlier this year after a spate of incidents in the midlands. He said he asked if gardaí could set up a dedicated unit to combat the increase in cattle rustling.
Asked if the Garda authorities had acted on the suggestion, a Garda spokesman said its investigation into cattle theft was being led by Monaghan Garda station. He said gardaí were also working with the Department of Agriculture to combat the problem. The cost of cattle theft has been estimated at €750,000 a year, with some farmers losing animals worth up to €40,000.