By Maura Fay
Last night RTÉ’s Prime Time programme featured a report by Fran McNulty on livestock theft.
Inspector Roy Robinson of the PSNI told the programme: “We believe there are illegal abattoirs in the border region and have been involved in these activities...it can be very basic; just a steel table, a room and a ban saw cutting the carcases and somebody who has knowledge in the butchers trade. That’s really all you need.”
Garda Inspector Fergus Treanor told Prime Time that the Gardaí “have identified up to three criminal gangs that are involved”. In the Republic, border counties are the worst affected but there are also a significant number of cattle being stolen in Clare, Limerick, Mayo and Laois.
The programme also spoke to Cavan Farmer Cyril Trenier who had cattle stolen in May. He confronted the culprit and got his livestock back. He said: “I was delighted and I got out and looked at them and I said ‘my girls you are back’. Next thing they all started to roar at me. And all I could do was thank the man above cause he had to get them back....(I was) very happy. There was tears in my eyes. I’m a hard man but I can be soft too in ways.”
Discrepancy in theft figures
The Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer Paula Barry Walsh said: “We have no particular evidence that this is an ongoing problem the scale of sheep rustling or stolen sheep is actually smaller again than the cattle problem.”
However new official Garda figures sourced by RTÉ Prime Time indicate a different reality - the number of sheep stolen since the beginning of 2012 is actually almost four times greater than cattle. Gardai figures reveal 1,979 sheep have been stolen between 2012 and 2014 (13th Oct).