Smuggling continues despite all restrictions

Irish Times via FT Smugglers and livestock thieves are still plying their trade here despite the restrictions introduced during the foot-and-mouth crisis last year. While the large scale smuggling of calves from Northern Ireland has greatly diminished because of increased checks on herds in the Republic, the illegal smuggling trade has continued at a reduced level.... ........ 'The increased security on the Border since the foot-and-mouth crisis has made it a little more difficult to operate but the demand has been much less this year. 'However, the smugglers are still in business,' he said. The problem of smuggled animals surfaced during the thousands of checks on stock carried out by Department officials during the foot-and-mouth crisis. Well over 100 smuggled animals were abandoned on roads in the mid-west region in the space of one month in 2001.

Another impact of the outbreak was the theft of sheep. This was particularly prevalent in the west of Ireland, when increased inspections on flocks were ordered in a national sweep to find traces of the disease in blood samples. One farmer in Erris, Co Mayo, had 120 of his breeding ewes stolen from his mountain pastures in the late autumn. While the theft of small numbers of untagged sheep are commonly reported to the Garda, the Erris case is interesting because all the animals were tagged. They also carried a distinctive freeze brand on the face which cannot be removed.

This week the owner said he feared the sheep had been taken across the Border or else they had been sold to someone who wanted to make up the proper number of ewes being claimed for under the ewe premium scheme. Mr Michael Holmes, the Mayo-based former chairman of the IFA's national sheep committee, said farmers in the west had been warned to keep a tighter eye on their flocks after a number of reported thefts.

As a direct result of the investigations which arose from the foot-and-mouth crisis the Department said yesterday investigations were continuing in cases involving 39 persons and two meat processing plants. 'These investigations are complex and time-consuming. At this juncture nine files have been submitted to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions,' the Department said in a statement yesterday. 'There are a wide range of offences under investigation, including illegal movement and import of animals, offences relating to the tagging and identification of animals, fraud, extortion and obstruction contrary to section 17A of the Diseases of Animals Act,' the statement concluded.
posted March 23 02