Baltard Cliffs in Co Clare Shutterstock/Greg Fellmann
beauty spot

Council forced to spend €7,000 to dispose of animal carcasses dumped off Clare cliffs

A court heard that the State authorities carried out a painstaking investigation to identify the remains.

THE WEST CLARE cliffs where a farmer dumped 12 animal carcasses are mentioned in a Lonely Planet guide to Ireland, a court has heard.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Detective Garda Oliver Downes also told the court that it took two days for a pyre to cremate the remains of the eight horses and four cattle carcasses to burn itself out at Baltard, Doonbeg in April 2014.

Downes said that the authorities took the decision to cremate the remains and organise the pyre as it was not practical to remove the carcasses from the base of the cliffs.

He said that the pyre required two tonnes of coal, 90 bags of timber and 90 bags of kindle to help cremate the animal remains.

He added that the cremation of the carcasses and disposing of the remains cost Clare County Council €7,372.

Guilty plea

In the case, Martin Gerald Foley, aged 65, of Lislanihan, Kilkee pleaded guilty to disposing of waste in a manner that is likely to cause environmental pollution on dates unknown between 20 April 2013 and 13 March 2014, contrary to Section 32 (1) of the Waste Management Act.

In court, Patrick Whyms BL confirmed that his client will be pleading guilty to sample counts from 193 animal welfare charges brought against Foley in a separate prosecution.

“That case will not trouble the court as far as a jury trial is concerned,” Whyms said.

In that case, the animal welfare charges relate to cattle and horses at locations in west Clare at Lisdeen, Lislanihan, Donoghboy, Dough and Baltard between March 2014 and 2016.

Whyms said that he would make his plea of mitigation in relation to the two cases at a later date.

In the dumping case, the court heard that the State authorities carried out a painstaking investigation to identify the remains and pinpoint the culprit through DNA matching of the animals in the face of denials from Foley when he first questioned on the dumping.

‘Very distressed state’

In evidence, Downes said that a walker contacted gardaí on 31 March 2014 “in a very distressed” state and informed them of the carcasses she found dumped.

Downes said that the cliffs are “spectacular”, very popular with tourists and walkers and are part of a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

He said that the carcasses were in various states of decomposition and that the cattle had their ear ID tags removed.

Downes said at the time, there was no requirement for horses to be tagged.

He said that a multi-agency investigation was launched involving the Department of Agriculture and Clare County Council.

Downes said that four muscle samples were taken from the four bovine carcasses.

The detective said that an inspection was made of Foley’s herd on 1 and 4 April, and 13 cattle were found to be missing from the herd.

Downes said that tissue samples from five of the 13 were retained at a lab and they matched with two of the bovine samples that were taken at the scene.

Counsel for the State, Lorcan Connolly BL said that the technology in place to preserve the integrity of the national herd helped identify the cattle as belonging to Martin Gerald Foley.

Downes said that Foley also put forward the theory that the animals were washed up by the sea.

However, an oceanographer employed by the State to comment on the theory said that this was very unlikely due to the motion of the sea and the wave action.

Whyms said that there is no suggestion that the animals were anything other than dead when disposed of at the cliffs. He said:

The court will hear that Mr Foley’s herd had a problem with mortality. It wasn’t a case that he was routinely dumping animals.
In the space of three months, 32 dead animals died on his farm and were disposed of in the correct manner

Connolly said that the penalties for the offence are fined up to €15 million and prison terms up 10 years in jail.

Judge Gerald Keys remanded Foley on continuing bail to appear before the court on 21 May when the animal neglect case is also listed.

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