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Images recorded in the abattoir in Straffan, Co Kildare
Shannonside Foods

Horse abattoir at centre of welfare abuses investigation shut down by Agriculture Minister

Charlie McConalogue said no stone will be left unturned during the investigation.

THE ABATTOIR WHERE RTÉ Investigates filmed “distressing” footage of welfare abuses on horses has been shut down by Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue.

McConalogue said his Department is “actively investigating the absolutely abhorrent mistreatment of animals and suspected criminality” at Ireland’s only active horse abattoir in Straffan, Co Kildare.

He added that the “full rigour of the law will be applied where warranted, and no stone left unturned”.

While McConalogue said he cannot comment in detail on the investigation, he outlined that the following actions have been taken.

  • No animals have entered the food chain from this slaughter plant in the past three weeks
  • All carcases that were presented for slaughter last week are detained
  • The operation of the plant is now fully suspended.

The abattoir is operated through Shannonside Foods, who told RTÉ that the footage captured “will be fully investigated by the Company”.

RTÉ Investigates used hidden cameras at the site and uncovered animal welfare abuses and cruelty in the treatment of horses being sent for slaughter.

The behaviour was filmed in a building where Shannonside Foods keeps horses before they are brought to the kill room.

Some dying horses were filmed being hit with long lengths of plastic piping.

In another incident, a horse was filmed over several hours while struggling to get back to its feet after it fell.

The only attention it received was the illegal use of a pitchfork in its side in an attempt to force it up.

The horse then died after hours of struggling.

In addition to this, RTÉ Investigates said it was able to analyse data which allowed it to profile the background of horses being sent for slaughter.

Its analysis found that two-thirds of horses sent to the abattoir were thoroughbred racers.

A Department of Agriculture spokesperson noted that an investigation was launched with gardaí after RTÉ provided evidence of the alleged abuses.

Late last month, the Department issued a legal notice prohibiting the presence or entry of horses to the building where much of the footage it described as “distressing” was filmed.

The spokesperson also noted that the building where the majority of the hidden camera footage was filmed is not part of the Department’s approved slaughter plant.

As a result, it is not subject to direct veterinary supervision under the relevant food and feed hygiene regulations which govern the operation of slaughter plants. 

However, the spokesperson added that “any officer of the Department authorised under the Animal Health and Welfare Act has the authority to enter and inspect premises where issues arise”.

Minister McConalogue also remarked that he is “committed” to improving equine traceability and equine welfare standards.

He added that a “collective effort across the European Union is required to further improve the traceability system”.

Meanwhile, a protest took place yesterday at the abattoir in Straffan where the hidden footage was filmed.

1000209817 Protest outside the abattoir in Straffan, Co Kildare yesterday My Lovely Horse Rescue My Lovely Horse Rescue

It was organised by animal charity My Lovely Horse Rescue, who held a minutes’ silence outside the plant.

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