Munster Express, 11/4/2003
John O'Connor weekly column

Ancient law invoked against man who shot at crow I have always felt a little nervous and uncomfortable around guns and I think it is only right and proper that the gardai are vigilant when it comes to granting or revoking firearm licences. That said, I thought a young man from County Offaly was rather harshly treated last week when he appeared in court following a complaint made by a member of the public. Garda J.K. Sheehy told Judge Thomas Fitzpatrick that the 20-year-old defendant, who had no previous convictions, pulled his jeep into a gateway at the side of the road before getting out and shooting into the field at the crow. However the driver of another vehicle objected to what was happening and made a complaint to the gardai. Superintendent Charles Devine told the Court the defendant could have been charged under the Public Order Act but it was deemed more appropriate to prosecute him on the lesser charge of 'discharging a weapon within sixty feet of the centre of a public road'. Defence solicitor Bernadette Owens said her client admitted that he had fired at the crow but, because he was in the recess of a gateway, he did not think he was on the public road. As a consequence of his action, the gun had been confiscated and his firearm licence revoked. The Act under which the defendant was prosecuted is the Summary Jurisdiction Act of 1851 which has a maximum fine of ten shillings so Judge Fitzpatrick felt obliged to call a calculator before imposing a fine of 63 cent to be paid forthwith. The court wasn't told why the man shot at the poor old crow in the first place and whether or not the defendant actually hit the bird with his shot.

Evening Herald, 18/12/2003

A man who shot two wild geese near a north Dublin bird sanctuary by “pure accident” for hunting protected wildlife. Gerard McHale (22) of Springvalley, Summerhill, Co. Meath, was fined at Balbriggan District Court for killing the protected Brent geese, contrary to the Wildlife act in an incident at Rogerstown, Lusk, on January 19th 2003. Defence solicitor, Michael A. Regan, said his client did not know the birds were Brent geese when he shot them. “I have shot with him myself and he’s not a very good shot,” Mr. Regan told the court. “He’s fired 15 times at the one bird circling around and missed it every time. He shot these wild geese by pure accident, it must have been suicide. The geese should be up in court for contributory negligence.”

Hunters kill protected deer and calf.

Evening Herald, 7/1/2004

A deer and its calf were butchered by two English hunters armed with high powered rifles. Simon Everett (43) and Nicholas Pancisi (44) were caught by Kerry gardai. “They had shot the deer, gutted it and then shot its young and removed the hind quarters,” Inspector Michael O’Donovan said. The Red Deer were a protected species in this area “and should not have been shot” said the garda.  Both men pleaded guilty to the charge of hunting a protected species at Kilgarvan, south Kerry, were fined €800 each and their two rifles worth stg£2,500 each confiscated.

Hunter fined €500 over shotgun blast at rabbit.

Irish Independent, 10/7/2004

A Hunter who blew a hole in a family home while hunting rabbits with a shotgun in a town centre at 3am when intoxicated has been fined €500. Timothy Coakley from Inchigeelagh, who appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless endangerment with a firearm. Coakley admitted that he had been trying to shoot rabbits along the main street of Dunmanway when he accidently blasted the family home on August 7th. Council for the hunter insisted that the incident was a case of ‘drunken bravado’. 

Shot 4O birds in cruel attack

The Nationalist, 21/8/1999

A horrible act of animal cruelty was carried out in a farmyard in Bagenalstown last week. Approximately 40 pigeons were slaughtered. The perpetrators walked into a person’s farmyard and shot the birds for no apparent reason. These pigeons had nested and bred in the farmyard for many years and were almost tame. After the slaughter took place the carcasses of the birds were left on the ground. This is not only a case of cruelty to animals, because the perpetrators of this act trespassed on private land and could have endangered human life. It was evident that a shotgun was involved. The gardai are following a definite line of inquiry and are confident that the people who carried out this act will be brought to justice.

Examiner, 8/10/1998

(main points)

Jack Gallagher (52), Cranford Court, Donnybrook, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court 7/10/98 to mistreating a rabbit contrary to the Protection of Animal Act. Mr. Gallagher was found in a nightclub in Baggot Street, Dublin with a pet rabbit in a briefcase. The animal which had conjunctivitis at the time was taken away for treatment. Mr.Gallagher, an unemployed man, said he lived alone and had the rabbit for company. He never intended to harm or be cruel to any animal.

Cruelty Charge.

Evening Herald, 4/12/1999

A woman who admitted a charge of cruelty to animals has been fined 150 pounds after Drogheda District Court heard that 28 deer had been found starved to death on her farm in Co Meath in Nov 1990. The court heard the defendant Vida Tuite , Ardcath, Co Meath had been unable to afford fodder for the animals.

Kerry Foods in duck cruelty charge

Sunday Times, 9/10/2005

British animal rights activists are targeting the Kerry Group, Ireland's largest food company, over the alleged mistreatment of ducks at a farm in Norfolk.  see more

Found with dead hare, cages and netting

Tipperary Star (, 27/9/2010  

A man who was caught with nets, a dead hare, and other equipment relating to illegal hunting, was fined a total of €600 and ordered to pay €500 in costs by Judge Terence Finn at a sitting of Cashel District Court.  see more

Probe into ‘horrific’ fox killing

Irish Independent, 21/3/2013

AN ANIMAL welfare probe is under way after sick thugs tortured and hanged a young fox from a tree directly opposite a busy bus stop.  The gruesome discovery was made in Mayfield on Cork's northside by a group of youngsters curious about the large plastic bag draped from a chain off a large tree branch.  Onlookers were horrified to discover that a fox had been wrapped inside a large plastic bag and then hanged by its neck from a chain.

The Cork Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CSPCA) was called to the scene and the fox was removed to determine if, as suspected, it had been tortured before being killed.  The CSPCA described the incident as one of the worst they have ever dealt with.  Inspector Vincent Cashman said they are determined to identify those responsible.  "This was a horrific act and we would appeal to anyone who suspects they know those responsible to contact either ourselves or the gardai," he said.

A special appeal for information has also been launched via the CSPCA's Facebook page.

Sligo man charged with keeping a pony tied up for so long the rope tore her face
The, 21/6/2013
William ‘Jack’ Conway admitted to the offence at Sligo District Court and has until September to pay a fine or face prison.  see more

Reward offered after seals decapitated

UTV News, 8/06/2013

A reward of €7,000 has been offered by two animal rights charities to anyone with information about the decapitation of two seal pups, whose heads were nailed to signs outside a seal sanctuary in Co Kerry.

  Gardaí are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the gruesome plaques which appeared outside the Dingle Wildlife and Seal Sanctuary on Thursday morning.  The seal heads were displayed on boards along with the messages "RIP cull" and "RIP I am hungry", painted in blood-red block capitals.  "Despite this abhorrent act, we will continue to be there for wildlife in distress whenever we're needed and encourage people to continue to phone us if they find an animal in distress," a spokesman for the sanctuary said.  "We're in disbelief that we have to do so, but we'll be upgrading our security system and installing infrared cameras."

  News of what had happened sparked a flood of comments to the sanctuary's Facebook page, with many people angered and saddened by the display of cruelty.  "Everyone from the Dingle Wildlife and Seal Sanctuary would like to officially thank everyone for their support and their compassionate comments, in regards to the atrocious scene that we arrived to yesterday morning," the spokesman added.  Staff also thanked the Animal Rights Action Network and Sea Shepherd Conservation for putting up the reward money to help find those responsible.

  The seal sanctuary opened its doors in June 2010, with volunteers caring for animals in need right across the south-west of Ireland.  But some people, mainly fishermen, are opposed to seals being protected due to their impact on fishing stocks.

Investigation begins after injured buzzard found
Breaking (,10/12/2012
An investigation is underway after a young buzzard was shot in Co Meath.  The bird of prey was found alive in the Rossnaree area, but was unable to fly having been hit by a number of shot pellets.  The bird had to be put down."Buzzards are protected birds of prey. The National Parks and Wildlife service is asking anyone with detail about the shooting to contact the conservation ranger in Navan, Co Meath or Gardaí.Annette Lynch, conservation manager with the NPWS, said that it is an offence to shoot these birds.  "When the wildlife act was introduced in 1976 it made it an offence to shoot or poison any of these birds of prey," she said.  "It made a good comeback, and they are actually going further and further south.  "When I started in the job in 1999, I'd pull over when I see a buzzard, whereas I suppose I do see them more regularly now, which is great, but that's because they've been protected."

Silencer on a deer hunter's weapon
Wicklow People newspaper,13/06/2012 
A MAN WHO had a silencer on a gun while out illegally hunting deer had his case adjourned until July at last Tuesday's sitting of Baltinglass District Court.  Paddy Cullen, 9 Harbour View, Wexford was charged with an offence under the Wildlife Act on December 29, 2010 and again on January 26, 2011.  He pleaded guilty to the charges and the court heard on December 29, 2010 John Kelly who had leased the deer shooting rights for a wooded area met Cullen carrying a gun 500 meters inside the wood.  He challenged Cullen who said he had permission from a farmer to shoot.
On January 26, 2011 in a different area Andrew Ryan who had leased the deer shooting rights for that area met Cullen with a rifle and a silencer 200 meters inside the wood.  Mr. Ryan told Cullen he had no permission to be there and asked him to leave.
  Cullen told Judge David Kennedy he didn't realise he had no permission to be on the lands shooting.  'I don't accept that for a second,' said Judge Kennedy.  He adjourned the case until July 3 to allow gardai time to check if Cullen had permission to use a silencer on his rifle.

Decision on Walderstown foxhunt cruelty investigation expected today
West Meath Independent, 1/12/2007

This afternoon (Wednesday), the body in charge of foxhunting in Ireland is expected to announce the findings of its investigation into claims that a fox was dug out of its den, tied up and fed alive to the hounds during a recent hunt in Walderstown.  An Irish Masters' of Foxhounds Association (IMFHA) sub-committee, which was set up to investigate the claims, was due to meet with members of the Westmeath Hunt yesterday evening, with a decision set to be announced today.

  The Westmeath Hunt organised the November 14 meet during which the incident is said to have taken place, but the organisation has strongly denied the claims. Caroline Preston of the Westmeath Hunt committee told this paper that while she did not take part in the meet in question, the Hunt has "vehemently denied" that the incident took place. "We are anxious to clear our name," said Ms Preston. 

  The Irish Council Against Blood Sports called for a Garda investigation into the claims, which were reported in the national press last week. Sergeant Noel Mulligan of Athlone Garda station said that, as of yesterday, the local gardai had received no report in relation to the incident.

  Landowner in Walderstown, Michael Murray, is reported to have been an eye witness to the hunt, but when contacted by this paper yesterday he said he had no comment to make in relation to the alleged events. The Walderstown allegations were originally discussed by the IMFHA at a meeting early last week.  The association's spokesperson, Brian Munn, said that a sub-committee was then established to investigate the claims and that in the last few days this group has spoken to a number of people "both formally and informally" as part of its enquiry.  "From our point of view we need to find out if something happened and, if it did, we need to make sure that it doesn't happen again," he commented.

  The Westmeath Hunt was suspended while the investigation was taking place.

  The alleged incident is outlawed under the code of conduct drawn up by the Irish Hunting Association and sanctioned by the Department of Agriculture and Food. It states that: "In no circumstances will a live fox which has been dug out be thrown to the hounds.

Hunters blamed for reintroducing wild boar herds in rural Clare

Irish Examiner, July 31/01/2013

Underground hunting rings are believed to be behind the reintroduction of herds of wild boar into rural County Clare. Three separate herds of wild boar have been discovered by authorities in forestry areas in the east and south of the county in recent weeks — with a total of 24 animals being captured from the wild. The most recent herd was discovered last week in the Sixmilebridge area where two adults and two boar piglets were discovered. Earlier this year, 15 animals were discovered in the Scariff area and a further five were discovered in a separate forestry location in east Clare. 

  According to Clare County Council’s ISPCA Dog Warden, Frankie Coote, the animals are likely being released on purpose so that their offspring can be hunted for sport. “These could have been released by people who took them in as pet and realised that they could not look after them, but I believe that they are being introduced by people who have an interest in coming back again and shooting the animals,” he said. “I think that this is an attempt to get them back into the big forestry areas in the county. If they did make it undetected, they would accumulate and they would run wild in no time. The people would then come back and hunt them.” 

  The animals discovered were relatively tame, however, their offspring would be wild and would present a danger to the public and to other wild animals.

  “We’ve had three incidents over the last few months in different parts of the county. These animals would have tusks and tough skin and the evidence suggests to us that someone is trying to reintroduce them in an organised way,” he said. “These can be very dangerous animals — especially if they turn wild. The difficulty is that they breed like hell and while these animals are relatively sedate, one sow could have 13 or 14 offspring, and these offspring would be wild. “If they were allowed to run wild it could quickly get out of control and it would present us with a major problem.”
  Wild boar are similar in size and weight to pigs. They are generally stronger and better built, as they forage over large distances. They can be aggressive towards humans, especially when they have piglets. They attack people by using their girth and power to ram them — essentially head-butting them — before slashing upwards with their sharp tusks.

Warrant out for farmer on cruelty charges

Irish Independent, 07/01/2006

a warrant for the arrest of a farmer was issued yesterday after he failed to appear in court on charges of animal cruelty.

Concern has been expressed for the welfare of 30 ponies on the man’s land near Clonmore, four miles from the town of Edenderyy, Co Offaley.

Farmer Joseph McNamee (63) was not present when his case was called at a District Court hearing where he was to face two charges in relation to his treatment of animals.

Gardai were also seeking an order so that the ponies on Mr McNamee’s farm could be removed by them.

A herd of cattle was removed by gardai from Mr McNamee’s property before Christmas because of welfare issues.

Judge John Neilan said it appeared to him that Mr McNamee was either incompetent or incapable of looking after the animals.

The judge was also critical of the Department of Agriculture, which he said could have taken appropriate action to take the animals away.

An inspector for the Department was present in court and said that officials had already seized a herd before Christmas and that there was now concern about the food-stuff which had been left for the ponies.

Let me keep my ponies.

Cruelty farmer makes horse appeal.

Sunday World, 15/01/2006

The ageing farmer accused of cruelty to animals said he wants to keep his herd of rare Celtic ponies, despite being told he was to hand them over.  see more

The food minister who flouts his own rules on quality

Sunday Tribune, 03/12/2000

Ned O’Keefe’s pig farm uses meat and bone meal.  see more

Three accused of Badger baiting at Kinnegad

Meath Chronicle, 08/03/1997

Three Kildare defendants summonsed with a number of alleged offences, including assisting in the baiting of a badger and a fox, had their cases adjourned to 11th April next at Trim Court next week.

  Peter Maher, Grangeclare, Knockcor, Carbury, is summonsed with wilfully interfering with and for destroying the breeding place of a protected wild animal, at Colehill, Kinnegad, on 25th February last; entering on the lands of Laurence Finn for the purposes of hunting wild birds or animals without the permission of the owner; causing, procuring or assisting in the baiting of a badger and a fox; carrying a spade and shovel capable of being used for the hunting of a wild bird or animal, on the lands of Laurence Finn without his permission; giving a false name and address contrary to section 69 of the Wildlife Act, 1976, and failing to give a correct name and address on a demand made pursuant to section 72 of the Wildlife Act, 1976.

  John Casey, Coolcarrigan, and Patrick Mulligan, Knockcor, Carbury, were summonsed also, with the first four charges.

Men admit to interfering with badger set

Examiner, 26/04/1997

Three men who admitted interfering with the set of a badger were described as blackguards by a Judge yesterday.

  Judge John Brophy also threatened to remand them in custody for a week when they appeared before Trim District Court. One of the men, Peter Maher, Grangeclare, Robenstown, was remanded in custody for a week.

  The court heard he had given a false name and address to a wildlife ranger.

  Maher along with John Casey (32), Coolcarrigan and Patrick Mulligan Jnr (28, Knockmore, Carbury was charged with entering lands without the owner’s permission on February 25, 1996 at Colehill, Kinnegad. The three also admitted interfering/destroying the breeding place of a protected wild animal and carrying a spade and shovel capable of being used for the hunting of a wild bird or animal.

  Solicitor Cora Higgins said the men had been given permission to hunt on lands belonging to a particular person and were doing that when a fox moved across onto other land. Judge Brophy said that there was no fox and if any part of a badger had been found in the set Ms Higgins clients would be going to jail for 3 months.

  He said they had dug 1.3 metres deep into the set.

  “The badger is a protected animal, this is a well known set in the area and they deliberately had two dogs and another dog in the boot. If a badger catches you he won’t let go, it is his only defence, it is disgusting,” said the Judge. The Judge added that if the Wilidlife Act permitted it, the defendants would be going to jail.

  A photograph of Maher had to be circulated to garda stations to get him identified and the other defendants allowed him to give false information to the ranger, they went along with the charade, Judge Brophy added.

  He remanded Maher in custody for a week to appear again in Trim Court next Friday.

  He imposed fines on the other defendants and in relation to Casey disqualified him from driving for 12 months using his car in connection with the offence.

Cruelty charge

Evening Herald, 04/12/1991

A woman who admitted a charge of cruelty to animals has been fined £150 after Drogheda District Court heard that 28 deer had been found starved to death on her harm in Co Meath last year in November 1990.

  The court heard the defendant Vida Tuite, Ardcath, Co Meath, had been unable to afford fodder for the animals.


Isn’t about time we gave these animals back their dignity?

Sunday Mirror, 16/07/2006

These are the humiliating stunts elephants are forced to perform to entertain Irish circus audiences.

  The captive wild animals – seen here at a Circus Sydney performance in Tralee – are made to hobble around on three legs, swing their trunks 360 degrees in time to music, balance on tiny stools and act as a climbing frame for humans.

  Between performances the elephants are chained to the floor or kept in an enclosure behind an electric fence.

  During the half-time break, the animals are chained to allow members of the public to pose with them for photographs.

  Some circus-goers complained to Gardai and animal welfare groups about their concerns for the elephants.

  One distraught circus-goer told the Irish Sunday Mirror he witnessed the elephants being whipped during the performance – a claim the circus denied.

  He said: “I thought their whole treatment and they way they are caged is appalling.”

A spokeswoman for Circus Sydney denied the use of whips and claimed the elephants are well looked after. She said: “We don’t use whips, even in training. We only use bags of sugar. Our elephants are well looked after and are only chained to the ground when we have to wash them. Otherwise they have a decent space enclosed by an electric fence which doesn’t do them harm. The ISPCA know us well and are happy with how we treat our animals.”

  Inspector Harry McDaid of Kerry SPCA said: “We did receive a complaint but having visited the circus prior to opening we were happy with the welfare of the animals. Some of our volunteers went to the first performance and saw nothing untoward. Whilst we don’t approve of animals in circuses these animals seemed well looked after. I had one complaint about a whip but none our volunteers saw it. But generally in circuses the whip is in the form of a stick used to direct the animal the way they do in India.”

  However, the Captive Animals Protection Society said it has been worried about the two elephants, owned by a German family, for some time. CAPS spokesman Craig Redmond said: “Any time we have gone to see these elephants they have been chained to the ground. These elephants are chained a lot. The pair have been in Ireland for a few years and I am very concerned about their welfare.”

  Bernie Wright from the Alliance for Animal Rights called for a ban on captive wild animals in circuses. She said: “The animals are generally kept in cramped conditions and spend a great deal of their time in trailers. And the training techniques of many circuses is questionable. Elephants made to swing their trunks round and round are being made to do something that doesn’t come easily to them and is painful to perform.”

  Circus Sydney travelled last year under the name Circus Oz but changed its name after legal action from a circus in Australia which had the same name.

  The Captive Animals Protection Society has long been campaigning against the use of animals in circuses.

  Mr Redmond added: “Many circus animals display signs of stereotypical behaviour – this is a mindless, repetitive behaviour thought to be caused by stress and suffering, in an unnatural and unstimulating environment. The most important thing anyone can do to end circus animal suffering is simply to avoid any circus using animals. Instead, visit one of the many excellent circuses that rely totally on human skills – there are many more all-human circuses than ones using animals. Circus owners will soon get the message. In the UK only eight out of about 35 or 40 touring circuses still use animals.

  But in Ireland most still have animals. There are about seven touring in Ireland and they all have captive wild animals. There were two non-animal circuses but I don’t think they are still touring.”

  Less than a month ago, the Irish Sunday Mirror highlighted the plight of two elephants belonging to Circus Vegas. Between performances in Belfast, the animals were kept on a rubble-strewn concrete wasteland at the former Harland and Wolff shipyard.

Swan Save: concern in Galway over ‘tame and trusting’ birds

Death of Claddagh swan being investigated

Irish Times, 02/08/2006

Gardai in Galway are investigating the apparent dismemberment of one of the swans from the Claddagh – home to the State’s largest flock of the birds at the mouth of the Corrib.

  The swan’s remains were discovered b8y a walker on the shoreside in the area known as “the Swamp”, close to the Claddagh, late last week. The carcase and entails were located near a group of tents which were pitched without authorisation on local authority land.

  The finding was reported to the Garda and to Galway and Claddagh Swan Rescue and several of its volunteers identified a trail of blood from the tent back to the Claddagh slipway. The 200 swans in the flock are very tame and congregate at the slipway to be fed and admired by the public, including young children.

  Gardai subsequently visited the campsite and it is understood that one man was questioned. The man subsequently said that he had found a dead swan and had decided to cook it and eat it.

  Suzanne Divilly of Galway and Claddagh Swan Rescue said the dead bird was a cob or male bird, who would have had a partner. “This was horrific, as these birds are protected under the Wildlife Act,” she said. “The Claddagh swans are so tame and trusting that all someone had to do was to put out their hand – which makes it even worse.”

Ms Divilly said it was the worst incident the voluntary organisation had come across in some time. However, she said that the body of a swan trapped in muslin was dug up by an animal – probably a fox or dog – in Rusheen Bay between Salthill and Barna two years ago. The organisation had also received reports of angling boats taking birds on Lough Corrib.

Galway city councillor Donal Lyons (Progressive Democrats) described the incident as a “new low” and said he hoped that the “full rigour of the law” would be applied to the culprit. Galway City Council said that camping was not authorised at the Swamp area, but the matter of bird protection would be one for the Garda.

Pony dope claims rock showjumping

Irish Independent, 22/02/2005

The Irish equestrian world was last night hit by new allegations that a top competition pony, ridden by a teenager, had tested positive for drugs after an international competition in Italy.  It was claimed that Loughnatousa Bart, whic6h competed with rider Colleen Power from Waterford at the Pony Nations Cup show in Arezzo, Italy, last September, tested positive for a series of drugs.

  There has been no formal finding of any doping in this case.

  Rumours had been circulating for some time in showjumping circles but the FEI, the international equestrian federation, was prepared only to confirm yesterday that a case involving an Irish pony was “in the course of due process.”  The FEI was not prepared to provide any details, while the Equestrian Federation of Ireland would not comment.

  Allegations of a positive drug test result for an Irish pony were made by RTE.  And last night RTE journalists’ handling of the investigation was criticised by a family member of the young showjumper involved.

  Following in the wake of Cian O’Connor’s Olympic doping case and just three days after Jessica Kuerten’s protest over the imposition of a fine following a positive test on her mare, Libertina, in Canada last September, this latest development has caused further consternation in the sport.

  Loughnatousa Bart, currently registered in the ownership of Terry Power, Colleen’s father, was a member of the winning Irish Nations Cup team Abezzo.  It was also placed in both Grand Prix classes at the Italian fixture.

  Under FEI rules, the person responsible in a pony doping case is not the rider but, instead, an adult connected with the horse.  The FEI’s Head of Communications, Muriel Faienza, said yesterday that it could be “the team Chef d’Equipe or coach, the team veterinary surgeon, the owner of the pony or a parent – it varies in each case”.

It is unclear who would be the person deemed responsible in this case if there is a finding of doping.

  Terry Power could not be contacted last night.  But his brother, Patrick, alleged that RTE personnel had called to the family home in Waterford yesterday and had “terrified” his niece.

  “I got a real fright,” Colleen told the Irish Independent last night.

  “I heard a car driving up and a horn beeping – I thought it was maybe a taxi at the wrong house.

  “And they rang the bell and then started banging on the door and the windows of the room I was in

  “I didn’t hear what they were saying but I was scared so I called my father and he sent my uncle over.”

RTE’s Damien Tiernan denied that there was any harassment involved.

  He said last night: “There was no indication that there was anybody in the house, all the blinds were drawn.

  “We knocked at the door of the house, nobody responded and I left.

  “I was there no longer than 60 seconds.”

He said he would be sorry if he in any way unknowingly upset a child.

Mother and daughter plead guilty to cruelty to horses

Irish Times, 27/01/2009

A mother and daughter have been banned from keeping horses, ponies and donkeys for 10 years following convictions for animal cruelty.  Judge Gerard Haughton described as “horrific” images of three ponies whose unpared hoofs caused so much pain that the ISPCA had no choice but to put them to sleep.

  Ester and Caitriona Molony, Ballindoolin House, Edenderry, Co Offaly, each pleaded guilty to three counts of animal cruelty at Edenderry District Court.  The ponies were seized by the ISPCA last May but inspector Brendan Hughes said they had been left for up to four years without foot-care. This resulted in two of the animals developing curled hooves.

  In one case the hooves of a 20 year-old mare were 18 inches long and had curled into the animal’s forelock, breaking skin and causing infection and scarring. A 10-year-old gelding developed extremely painful cloven feet as its untended hooves grew inwards because of its different bone structure.  Mr Hughes said this animal had possibly been in more pain than the others, despite his less obvious appearance of physical suffering, because he would have been forced to walk on his toes at all times.

  Despite extensive veterinary care and significant farrier treatment, a decision was made by the ISPCA to put them to sleep to prevent further suffering.  A member of the public had alerted the ISPCA to the plight of the animals, which were kept in a paddock at the back of the house.

  The court heard that the women had difficulty in getting a farrier to attend the farm, possibly because they had reduced the number of equines in their care and the fattier may have deemed it not worth his while.

  In their grief following the death of Ester Molony’s husband, Robert, in January 2007, they had been under enormous pressure to maintain the house and farm and were only able to prevent their sale because of ground rents accruing from properties belonging to Mrs Molony in Dublin.

  Nevan O’Shaughnessy said his clients, who run a working harm and who open stately Ballindoolin House to the public, were mortified and embarrassed. He described them as “extremely respectable people.”

  Caitriona Molony waited in the courtroom with her four-week-old son until the case was heard after one o’clock.

  Judge Gerard Haughton, who described images of the neglect as “horrific”, said he would not accept the defence of the farrier not turning up because the “very obvious neglect” had been going on for several years.

  He ordered the Molonys to pay costs of over €500 to the ISPCA which is to be informed if the women wished to have the ban lifted on appeal.

Farmer denies growth promoter use

RTE News, 05/07/2002

A Waterford farmer has denied using banned growth promoters on his pigs.

  The Department of Agriculture and the Food Safety Authority are investigating the alleged breach of a restriction order placed on the farm.  The Department says the breach has led to some of the restricted pig meat finding its way into shops with some of it already eaten by consumers.

  The farmer, Tom Galvin, has denied using Carbadox since it was banned by the Eurpean Commission in 1999 over concerns about its potential effects on humans. Carbadox helps prevent pigs getting scour.

  Mr Galvin was informed on 22 April by the Department that one of his pigs had tested positive in a factory last November for the banned substance.  Mr Galvin said that although he had received no condemnation certificate for the pig in question, the movement of pigs on or off his farm has been in force since April.

In recent days, Department officials have been investigating the alleged illegal movement of about 1,500 pigs off the farm. Over a third have been seized and destroyed so far.

  Mr Galvin claims, however, that the Department has not tested his pigs.

  The Department says that although the consumption of pig meat from these animals is unlikely to be a significant health risk, it does not wish to understate the safety concerns surrounding Carbodox.

Shot birds horror for stunned golfers

The Sun, 11/02/2005

Glofers set for a round at a posh club got a shock when dead and dying birds rained down on the course. Marcus O’Brien, from Libmerick, said he and his pals heard a series of shots as they arrived to tee off at Dromoland Castle Golf Club.

  He said: We were forced to watch the horrendous slaughter of some of the most beautiful wildlife. “We were captive on the tee for 20 minutes, while dead and partly dismemberd birds rained down.”

  Marcus claims gun dogs then ran in and “finished off” the dying birds at the five-star Co Clare resort.

  The fairways were left littered with mutilated birds and used cartridges. Marcus said: “Our game of golf was ruined and I have been left with terrible images. We’d just gone for quiet round.”

  Dromoland Castle refused to comment. But it is understood management have contacted some players who were on the course at the weekend and apologised for any distress they suffered.

  Organised shooting – along with golf, tennis, fishing, and boating – is among the activities offered by the resort.

Pheasant shooter handed €130 fine

Bray People, 19/01/2007

A man who shot a pheasant in his front garden, was fined €130 for killing a protected wild bird out of season by Judge Donnchadh O Buachalla at Wexford District Court.

  Colm Davis of Courtclough Upper, Blackwater admitted the offence which happened at his home on May 3 last year.

  A garda witness told the court that the defendant was upstairs at home when he saw a pheasant in his front garden.  He had a firearm and took out the gun and shot the bird.  He was unaware of the fact that it was outside of the shooting season and the pheasant was a protected wild bird.

  The defendant told the court that he apologised sincerely and said he didn’t know he was doing wrong.

The garda told the court that the defendant had two firearms licences and both of them were revoked following the incident.

Horror of Pig Massacre

Ireland on Sunday, 19/06/2005

It almost defies belief – 4,300 pigs killed in a bloody six-day spree that involved the use of a sledgehammer and a bizarre attempt at suffocation. What’s even more shocking is that this grotesque scene was presided over by Department of Agriculture officials…  see more

Department of Agriculture in the dock over pig slaughter

Sunday Independent, 26/06/2005

A government animal welfare committee has asked the Department of Agriculture to explain how a farmer cruelly slaughtered more than 4,000 pigs while under official supervision.

  The inhumane slaughter was caught on video, showing the farmer killing pigs with a captive bolt gun, contrary to EU regulations, which only permit its use for stunning an animal. In other breaches, the animals were not restrained before being shot and were not killed in isolation.

  The video, revealed in the Sunday Independent last week, was viewed by the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council last Thursday. Members of the government appointed council were said to be shocked by the images of clearly-distressed animals writhing violently in their dying moments after being shot with the bolt gun.

  The committee has asked Department to report back to its next meeting, in August.

  The Department has distanced itself from the poor slaughter practice on the video, arguing that the farmer sought to kill the animals himself and that veterinary inspectors who assessed the process saw nothing amiss.

  The Department’s role in the slaughter has been queried by animal welfare campaigners, who claim the evidence clearly shows that the farmer was not competent to kill the animals and that officials should have stepped in to halt the cruel slaughter.

  Mary Ann Barlett, of Compassion in World Farming, called for an independent inquiry “into how that slaughter was allowed to take place on farm, in the knowledge of the Department of Agriculture.”

Ms Bartlett,0 who also sits on the animal welfare council, said she was prohibited from discussing what transpired at Thursday’s meeting.

  “The crux of the matter to us is how was that allowed to happen when the Department knew about it – and with a captive bolt pistol,” she said.

  “All slaughter should be done in a suitable location under very, very strict veterinary supervision. In this case, someone who is not a trained slaughterer killed huge numbers of animals.

  “This is about welfare of animals. We want to know how it happened and we want complete reassurance from the Department that it will not happen again.”

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports also plans to raise the role of the Department of Agriculture in the slaughter with the European Commission.

  Tom Galvin, from Dungarvan in Waterford, slaughtered his herd in 2002, almost three months after they were impounded by the Department. Officials found a banned substance on his farm which they say he confessed to feeding to his pigs. Disease broke out and Mr Galvin claimed he had no option but to slaughter the pigs on welfare grounds.

  Mr Galvin is currently being prosecuted under the Animal Remedies Act, and is in turn suing the Department. In a statement last week, the Department of Agriculture said the farmer sought to slaughter the animals himself on welfare grounds.

  Two veterinary inspectors regarded him as competent enough to use a captive bolt gun to put down the pigs. The inspectors visited the farms on numerous occasions to assess the slaughter but the farmer never raised concerns.

  “They witnessed the herd owner using the captive bolt method to slaughter pigs on such occasions and furthermore witnessed him pithing a number of pigs where this was required to ensure death,” the statement read.

Responding to a Dail question from Fine Gael’s Agriculture spokesman Denis Naughton, Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan said: “The herd owner had decided to slaughter his animals on farm and the Department considered at the time it could not legally have forced him to have the operation conducted in a slaughter plant.”

Gardai closing in on seal killers

Slaughter: 45 animals were massacred off the Kerry coast

Evening Herald, 30/12/2004

Gardai investigating the illegal slaughter of seals on Beginish Island are sending a file to Director of Public Prosecutions.

  The file was prepared after gardai completed interviews with a number of people. The DPP will decide on what action will be taken regarding prosecutions.

  Some 45 protected seals were massacred on the island off the West Kerry coast. The mammals were grey seals, a protected species under the 1976 Wildlife Act.


An investigation involving gardai, Duchas and conservation officers got underway following the discovery of the bodies near Dingle last month.

  Fishermen had previously called for a cull of the seals claiming they are damaging their nets and eating large amounts of dwindling salmon stocks.

  Some 40 dead seals including five adults were found at tiny Beginish Island in the Blaskets by divers out on a trip from a local club. Another five adult seals were found shot dead in Brandon Bay.

  Gardai denounced the killings as “a despicable type of crime which is being fully investigated.”

  Environmental Minister Dick Roche promised a full investigation saying he was shocked and disgusted at the brutality of the massacre of the protected seals.

  The 600 strong Blasket grey seals colony is one of the most important Europe and accounts for about one third of the total Irish seal population.

  The Irish Seal Sanctuary had called on Kerry people to help find and identify the killers responsible. Many of the tiny pups were so young they were not even able to swim.


The pups usually stay on the beach and their mothers come out of the sea to feed them until they are able to swim. Some of the adults killed on the beach could well have been trying to defend their pups when they were killed.

Wild birds caught by illegal trapping for trading as pets

Song-birds in good condition can command prices of up to £25 each

Irish Times, 02/08/1995

Wild song-birds, including goldfinches and bulfinches, are being illegally trapped in Wicklow and west Dublin for sale to avian enthusiasts and song-bird breeders. The Irish Times had learned that a number of individuals based in Tallaght and east Wicklow have already started to trap goldfic6hes for the pet trade.

  Trapping song-birds is illegal under the 1976 Wildlife Act. August traditionally signals the start of the illegal trapping season. Goldfinches are the most sought-after species for trapping, as birds in good condition can command prices of up to £25 each on the black market.

  Song-birds are trapped in two ways. The first, bird liming, involves placing a coat of bird lime, a glue-like substance on branches near a caged bird. The “caller”, as the caged bird is called, acts as a decoy to attract birds of similar species. When a wild bird lands on a branch coated in bird lime, it immediately gets stuck and is then captured by the trapper.

  The other method involves the use of specially designed trap cages. These are cages which have a holding compartment for a “caller” bird and a number of smaller spring-loaded trap cages. Trap cages are c6tivated when a bird lands on the “caller” bird’s cage. This traps the wild bird in a small compartment located on the top of the cage trap.

  A significant portion of wild song-birds die during capture and transportation from stress and handling. The life expectancy is very short as wild birds are not suited to captive lifestyles.

  Following capture, song-birds are laundered into the legal pet trade by placing closed bird rings on them. All native bird species sold in pet shops and at bird markets must have a closed bird ring on them. These are placed on captive-bred birds while still in the nest. As nestlings grow the ring becomes too small to remove over the foot. This ensures that all birds which have closed rings on their legs are captive bred.

  However, it has been learned that a small number of trappers are circumventing the Wildlife Act by putting closed-rings on wild caught birds.

  One trapper in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, told The Irish Times that by placing a closed metal bird ring on a hot nail, the ring could be enlarged and forced over a bird’s foot and on to its leg. When the ring cools it returns to its former size.

  Trapped birds are sold to pet shops and at bird markets. A small number are “legally” exported to Britain.

  Mr John Coveney, spokesman for the Irish WIldbird Conservancy, said the trapping of song-birds was not a major conservation problem. However, it had caused problems to species populations in local areas.

  The spokesman also called on the Government to introduce legislation to protect song-bird bird habitats and introduce more significant fines for those caught trapping wild birds.


Men bludgeoned deer to death during rabbit hunt

Carlow People, 28/10/ 2008

THREE TULLOW men were convicted of animal cruelty this week when they admitted bludgeoning a deer to death on a night out hunting rabbits.

 A lurcher dog was used to bring the animal down before the men were photographed by a wildlife ranger bludgeoning the deer to death with blunt objects.

  The three were before the district court on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to animal cruelty at Barnameelia, Rathdangan on January 8 2007.

 Sergeant Joseph Hanley told the court that John Nolan of 57 Hillbrook Estate, Brian McDonald of 52 St Patrick's Park, and Brian Rooney of 14 Slaney View Drive were out in the early hours of the morning hunting animals.

  The men were out hunting with a fourth individual who Sgt Hanley said had not been brought before the court as this person is of little intelligence and attends a special school.

 Solicitor Brendan O'Flaherty said his clients alleged that the lamp and the dog on the night belonged to the forth individual. He added that the pain brought on by the dog would have led to a lingering death and that the three men came across the badly wounded deer and decided to put it out of its misery.

 He added that hunting rabbits was a weekly pastime for the three and that there had never been an incident like this until they were joined by the fourth person.

 Sgt Hanley disagreed that they had not been deer hunting on the night as Barnameelia was an area known for being highly populated by deer.

 'If they were hunting rabbits then there are other areas closer to home,' he said.

He added that no one had taken full responsibility for the dog but that he believed it did not belong to any of the three defendants in court.

 After being informed that the dog had not been put down Judge William Harnett voiced concern. 'That dog is capable of attacking a child, other animals, another deer or a sheep,' he said.

 Sgt Hanley produced a vet report on the deer along with gruesome photographs of the dead animal. He added also that expenses of ¤750 needed to be paid to cover the veterinary report, photography and transport for the animal for post-mortem.

 Saying that their pleading mitigation is plausible and can't be disproven Judge William Harnett convicted and fined each of the men €500 on the animal cruelty charge and ordered that they each pay €250 expenses.

 A number of further charges including the use of MPVs, vessels and aircraft in hunting animals, hunting with a lamp, light or torch and entering a land without permission to hunt wild animals were all withdrawn.

Evil thug ripped off rare bird’s heads.  

Daily Star, 28/03/2009

Glen Conroy (21), Mourne View, Skerries, Co. Dublin was jailed for three years for breaking into an aviary and killing twelve exotic birds.  The incident was captured on CCTV as Mr. Conroy and another accomplice broke into Newbridge House, Donabate, Co. Dublin.   

Mr. Conroy was drunk at the time and said he did not remember killing the birds until told by a friend the next day. In court, he said “he snapped their necks and gave them a few boots.”

Pig farmer jailed for 18 months over animal cruelty

RTE, 13/02/2015

One of Ireland's biggest pig producers has been sentenced to prison for 18 months for what a judge has described as animal cruelty on an industrial scale.

  Rory O'Brien, 60, of Killicane, Mitchelstown in north Cork, had pleaded guilty to five charges of animal cruelty which included the cannibalisation of animals and failing to comply with a welfare notice.

  O'Brien, whose piggery once handled up to 20,000 animals, now owes €22 million to the banks but the court was told the cruelty was not as a result of his finances, which were described as catastrophic, but because of his bad management.

  Department of Agriculture Veterinary Inspector John McConville told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that during several visits to O'Brien's piggery between May and September 2011 they found sick, starving and dying pigs and boars, some units were overrun by rats and animals were without access to drinking water.

  The inspectors also found pigs had cannibalised each other, and in one case a boar had an abscess on his leg the size of a football.

  He said his fellow inspector Mary Callinane got very upset on one occasion when she discovered workmen watering shrubs on the property but the pigs had no water, and temperatures were in the 20s.

  Ms Callinane also had to call gardaí when she was verbally abused by O'Brien during an inspector of the piggery.

  Officials issued several notices to try and alleviate the suffering but these were ignored by O'Brien, who in correspondence claimed his piggery met the highest standards.

  Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said O'Brien openly defied the Department of Agriculture and described the correspondence as "brazenness in the context of the evidence".

Judge Ó Donnabháin accepted that O'Brien's animal welfare issues occurred at a time he was under severe pressure over his finances but he said the severity of the welfare and cruelty issues required a custodial sentence and he jailed him for 18 months.

Birdbrained: Video shows man tying and throwing live pigeons in air to train hunting dogs

Irish Mirror, 11/06/2013

This sickening video shows a trainer tying up live pigeons to teach hunting dogs.

  In a disturbing video posted on a dog training website, instructor Paul David Toal can be seen tying the birds’ legs with elastic and then tossing them into the air.

  The animals struggle to fly before dropping to the ground and are fetched by gun dogs.

  After being brought back to Mr Toal, the birds are tied up again and the act is repeated.

  Mr Toal, the owner of the Co Leitrim-based Altiquin Labradors, denied the birds suffered harm.

  He said: “Over three years ago, we were involved in using live birds to train our dogs.

  “The birds were neither injured nor killed. We ceased this practice over three years ago on realising this method of training had become outmoded and surpassed.”

But Mr Toal’s website shows footage uploaded as recently as two years ago, in July 2011, in which a live bird can be seen being hurled up and retrieved by a dog.

  Mr Toal added: “We did not know at that time this practice transgressed the law. I am now training my dogs in full compliance with the law.

  “We would like to apologise for any distress we may have caused.”

Animal Rights Action Network’s John Carmody believes cases such as this are common due to the disregard shown to anti-cruelty legislation.

  He said: “We’re disgusted this is going on. It goes to show people don’t care for our animal welfare laws.

  “It’s worrying because from what we have been told, this practice is rampant throughout the country.

  “We get countless emails and complaints about this kind of cruelty but until our laws are taken seriously, people aren’t going to stop.

  “I hope the media highlight this issue and people see animal cruelty as a very serious offence.

  “Maybe those who are responsible for these sickening acts might think twice because they’ll know groups like ourselves will be on their case and looking to have them prosecuted.”

The organisation has welcomed the introduction of last month’s Animal Welfare Bill.

  Mr Carmody added: “This law gives heavier jail sentences and tougher fines for acts like this.”

Young peregrine falcon shot down on one of its first flights

Breaking, 13/08/2014

A young peregrine falcon has been shot down in Co Wexford.

  The bird - which was on one of its first flights - was shot with a shotgun at Ballynastraw near Enniscorthy. It had to be put down as a result of its injuries.

  An X-ray has confirmed the falcon was shot with shotgun pellets in its wing and leg. An identification ring placed on the bird’s leg in June of this year showed that it was a young bird on one of its first flights.

  The Parks and Wildlife Service is appealing for the public's help as the bird is a protected species, and shooting them is a criminal offence.

  Dominic Berridge from the Service said: "There seems to have been an increase in the deliberate killing of peregrines in recent years with several unexplained nest failures in the south-east. The finding of this bird is not an isolated incident.

  "There have been attempts to poison and shoot birds at a number of nests…If people see anything suspicious like a tethered pigeons or a trap, NPWS staff should be called."

  The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, added: "It is intolerable for protected birds of prey to be persecuted, poisoned or shot.

"Not only is this activity illegal and barbaric, it also harms our reputation as a country that values its wildlife. I would urge anyone to report such incidents to the National Parks and Wildlife Service in my Department."

Appeal after peregrine falcon illegally shot in Co WexfordProtected bird of prey had to be euthanised by parks service due to severity of injuries

Irish Times, 13/08/2014

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is has appealed for information after a young peregrine falcon was illegally shot in Co Wexford.

  The native bird of prey had to be euthanised by the parks service after it was found shot at Ballynastraw near Enniscorthy due to the severity of its injuries.

  X-rays showed that the bird was hit with shotgun pellets in its wings and leg, the Department of Arts and Heritage said in a statement. Vets said the injuries were so bad that rehabilitation was unlikely.

  The falcon was young and on one of its first flights, according to an identification ring on its leg.

  The parks service has raised concern about an increase in the deliberate killings of peregrines in recent years. It said there were several unexplained nest failures in the south-east.

  “The finding of this bird is not an isolated incident. There have been attempts to poison and shoot birds at a number of nests and if people see anything suspicious like a tethered pigeons or a trap, NPWS staff should be called,”Dominic Berridge of the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve at the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NWPS) said.

  It was “intolerable” for birds of prey and other wildlife “to be persecuted, poisoned or shot,”Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys said in a statement.

  “Not only is this activity illegal and barbaric, it also harms our reputation as a country that values its wildlife,” she said. She urged the public to report incidents to the NPWS.

  Peregrine falcons are a protected species and receive high legal protection under law . The killing of them is a criminal offence.

Anyone with information which could assist the investigation is asked to contact Mr Berridge at 076-1002660

Man jailed for cruelty to at-risk horses

Irish Times, 20/04/2012

A MAN who has contracts with nine local authorities to take in and care for horses which are at risk or abandoned has been convicted of cruelty to animals and sentenced to 16 months in jail.  see more

Gardai seize deer's head as Operation Bambi hits poachers

Irish Independent, 22/04/2014

This is the deer's head that has been seized as part of an investigation into poaching code-named Operation Bambi.

  The discovery was made by Tallaght gardai when five officers entered a house last Friday week after they obtained a warrant under the Wildlife Act.

  It is understood that the head belonged to a deer that was poached using two lurchers and a spotlight in the Dublin Mountains.

  Sources have revealed that gardai were alerted to the situation after an image of the deer's head was placed on Facebook.

  Operation Bambi, being conducted by gardai and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, is co-ordinated by Insp Martin Walker who is based at Carlow garda station.

  It is understood that the Facebook image of the deer's head was sent to Insp Walker who was passed on the information to colleagues in Tallaght who then conducted a search of the house.

  Commenting on the seizure, Damien Hogan, the secretary of the Wild Deer Association of Ireland said: "The Wild Deer Association of Ireland welcomes this development and would like to thank all involved."

  "There has been a significant increase in the number of successful prosecutions and detections in recent months, and we would encourage our members and supporters to continue to report suspected incidents of deer poaching."

The Herald revealed last December that a gang that gardai targeted was responsible for poaching up to 200 deer after boasts about their exploits were posted on Facebook.

  The deer hunters has been operating without licences in counties Wicklow, Carlow and Kilkenny and were under investigation by gardai since the start of the season last September.

  Senior sources said that one suspect used Facebook to boast he has killed 15 deer in one night, and that gardai would not catch him.

  The poachers operated with the help of a high-powered lamp and an electronic device imitating the call of a stag during the rut, or mating season, in October.

  This attracted stags to come out of their cover in heavily forested areas and become easy targets for the poachers.

  Co Wicklow is reckoned to have the highest concentration of Sika deer in Europe after it was introduced from its native Japan by Lord Powerscourt in 1859, at his estate near Glencree.

  Sika and red deer are closely related, and as a result of inter-breeding, all of the deer now in Wicklow are hybrids.

  It is estimated that about 12,000 of the 32,000 deer shot under licence last year were killed in Wicklow, while hundreds more fell victim to poachers.

  It is understood that venison from poached Irish deer is being exported.

  Intelligence available in the Operation Bambi team indicates that some of those involved are supplying poached deer directly to British dealers who collect carcasses at pre-arranged locations using refrigerated lorries.

It is believed some of those involved are supplying poached deer directly to British dealers.

Farmer jailed for 18 months over 'appalling' cruelty to starved ponies

Irish Independent, 09/12/2015

A farmer was jailed for 18 months for cruelty to animals after five ponies were so badly starved on his farm they had to be put down.

  Judge James McNulty described as "absolutely appalling" the condition of the ponies discovered by Department of Agriculture inspectors on land owned by Kenneth Coombes (50) last year.

  Coombes, of The Carrig, Lurriga, Skibbereen, Co Cork, has a total of 26 previous convictions dating back over 10 years, 20 for neglect or cruelty to animals.

  In 2007, he was jailed for 30 days and warned to never again own, care for or manage farm animals.

  That sentence was imposed after Coombes was convicted of causing cruelty to pigs and dogs, failing to bury dead animals and allowing one carcass to rot on the roof of a shed on his 36-acre farm.

  Judge McNulty warned Skibbereen District Court that, despite this, Coombes still appeared to have animals in his care.

  Coombes was convicted on three charges of animal cruelty relating to ponies and dogs on various dates between May 29 and July 1, 2014.

  "These five ponies were effectively starved to death," the judge said.

Judge McNulty noted Coombes's multiple previous convictions for animal cruelty.

  He imposed six-month prison sentences on all three charges.

However, he said that, in light of his repeat behaviour, he was directing that all three sentences be served consecutively, meaning he received an 18-month term.

Cork pig farmer pleads guilty to cruelty and neglect

Irish Examiner, 05/02/2015

Defendant failed to treat or euthanise a pig after it was left in pen to be eaten alive

  The owner of a Mitchelstown pig farm pleaded guilty yesterday to cruelty and neglect in relation to animals, including one count of an animal being left in a pen to be eaten alive.

  A jury of nine men and three women was sworn in yesterday morning after Rory O’Brien and his wife Monica O’Brien of Killicane, Mitchelstown, Co Cork, and the farm manager, Seamus Curran of Kiltrislane, Mitchelstown, pleaded not guilty to a total of 88 counts related to alleged cruelty to animals.

  However, lawyers in the case spent the following hour in discussions outside the courtroom on Washington St, Cork, and, by the time they returned to court, there was no longer a need for a trial. Alice Fawsett, prosecution senior counsel, said the Director of Public Prosecutions was entering a nolle prosequi on all charges against Monica O’Brien and Seamus Curran. That saw them cleared of all charges and free to go.

  Rory O’Brien, who had pleaded not guilty to 32 counts on the indictment, was then re-arraigned on five counts and he pleaded guilty to all five.

  Kenneth Fogarty, defence senior counsel, said that sentencing was likely to take longer than normal and that a number of witnesses would have to be called.   He intends to call the defendant’s accountant and a veterinary expert in mitigation.

  Sentencing was adjourned by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin until February 12. He asked the prosecution if they had had any objection to the accused, Mr O’Brien, being remanded on bail.

  Ms Fawsett SC said he had been on bail, there was no objection to him being on continuing bail, and there were no prosecution fears about the accused not turning up for sentencing.

  Two of the charges to which O’Brien pleaded guilty carry maximum penalties of three years imprisonment and/or a €100,000 fine. The other three carry maximum penalties of two years and/or a €10,000 fine.

  Mr Fogarty SC suggested he might apply for a probation report at the time of sentencing. Judge Ó Donnabháin asked what he hoped to achieve by this. The senior counsel said that it would be a factor if community service was a possibility.

  “They [the probation service] might say he would be better on the side of the road picking up pieces of paper than sitting in prison,” said Mr Fogarty.

Before the jury was selected yesterday morning Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin warned the panel that the case could last seven to 10 days.

  The five charges to which Mr O’Brien pleaded guilty were, as follows:

  1. That he did between May 3 and Sept 8, 2011, at Killicane, Mitchelstown, fail to take the necessary steps to ensure the welfare of pigs in his possession or under his control and that he failed to ensure the animals were not caused unnecessary suffering or injury by failing to treat or euthanise them.
  2. That at the same place during the period June 7 to 10, 2011 he failed to comply with a welfare notice dated June 7, 2011, relating to animals in his possession or under his control or care.
  3. That on May 9, 2011, he caused unnecessary suffering to a pig by failing to treat or euthanise it after its flesh was extensively eaten on its ribcage.
  4. That on June 3, 2011, he caused unnecessary suffering to a boar by failing to treat or euthanise it when it had swollen joints and chronic abscesses.
  5. That on July 25, 2011, he caused unnecessary suffering to a pig by failing to treat or euthanise it after it was eaten alive, damaging its left side, leaving a large bleeding wound.

Farmer admits to cruelty after pig is eaten alive

Irish Independent, 05/02/2015

A LARGE-scale Irish farmer pleaded guilty to animal cruelty after admitting he caused unnecessary suffering to a pig by failing to treat it after it was found eaten alive.

  Pig farmer Rory O'Brien pleaded guilty to a total of five animal cruelty charges before Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

  Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin was told that O'Brien of Killicane, Mitchelstown, Co Cork was admitting five charges brought under animal welfare regulations.

  Rory O'Brien and his wife, Monica, and their farm manager, Seamus Curran, pleaded not guilty to a total of 88 charges relating to various allegations of animal cruelty on dates between May 3 and September 8, 2011. Rory O'Brien faced a total of 32 counts.

  Curran has an address of Kiltrislane, Mitchelstown, Co Cork.

  Judge Ó Donnabháin was told, after a jury was sworn in to hear the case, that Rory O'Brien could be re-arraigned on five of the charges.

  He confirmed a guilty plea on all five charges and the court was told that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was formally entering a nolle prosequi or 'no prosecution' order in respect of all outstanding charges against Monica O'Brien and Seamus Curran.

  Both were discharged.


The charges to which the farmer pleaded guilty included that on July 25 2011 he caused unnecessary suffering to a pig by failing to treat or euthanise it after it was found eaten alive with a large bleeding wound on its left side at Killicane, Mitchelstown.

  He also admitted that, between May 3 and September 8 2011, he failed to take the necessary measures to ensure the welfare of the pigs under his control and that he failed to ensure the animals were not caused unnecessary suffering or injury by failing to treat or euthanise them.

  O'Brien also admitted that, between June 7 and 10 2011, he failed to comply with a welfare notice relating to the animals in his possession or under his control and care, the notice being dated June 7.

  The farmer admitted that, on May 9 2011, he caused unnecessary suffering to a pig by failing to treat or euthanise it after it had its flesh extensively eaten out of its ribcage.

  Finally, he admitted that, on June 3 2011, he caused unnecessary suffering to a boar by failing to treat or euthanise it when it had swollen joints and serious abscesses.

  Judge Ó Donnabháin was asked to adjourn sentencing in the matter to allow for the preparation of expert reports.

  He was told the State had no objection to O'Brien being remanded on continuing bail.

  Judge Ó Donnabháin remanded him for sentencing on February 12.

  The most serious charges against O'Brien carry a maximum penalty of a fine of up to €100,000 and/or up to three years imprisonment.

  The three lesser charges carry penalties of a fine of up to €10,000 and/or two years imprisonment.

  Rory O'Brien ranked as one of the largest-scale pig farmers in Ireland.

  He waged a high-profile campaign against the closure by Dairygold of its Galtee Meats plant in Mitchelstown back in 2007.

  The plant - one of Ireland's biggest pigmeat processing facilities - closed with the loss of almost 500 jobs as part of the rationalisation of Dairygold operations.

Pig farmer jailed after starving pigs ate each other alive has sentence reduced

Irish Independent, 24/07/2015

A pig farmer, who admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a pig by failing to treat it after it was found eaten alive on his farm, has had his 18 month jail term reduced to 12 on appeal.

  Rory O'Brien (60) of Killicane, Mitchelstown, Co Cork, had pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to five counts of animal cruelty at his farm on dates between May and September 2011.

  O'Brien had been indicted on 32 counts – three in respect of the welfare of animals, two for failing to comply with a notice and 27 for cruelty – and similar charges were brought against his wife and the farm manager.

  However, on the morning of his trial he pleaded guilty to five counts on a full facts basis and the remaining charges against all three accused were withdrawn by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

  He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin on February 12 2015.

  Moving to appeal his sentence Friday, Ken Fogarty SC, for O'Brien, submitted that the trial judge was “clearly influenced” by facts relating to counts which were not before the court.

  The sentencing judge referred to 17,000 pigs and 'cruelty on an industrial scale' but there were only three animals involved in the cruelty to which O'Brien had pleaded guilty, Mr Fogarty said.

  Speaking on behalf of the three-judge Court of Appeal today, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said the court wished to emphasise that it acknowledged these offences as “extremely serious”.

  “That goes without saying and the facts of this case speak for themselves.”

However, it was undoubtedly a fact also that O'Brien was under considerable pressure at the time, Mr Justice Sheehan said.

  The court heard he was €22 million in debt, was effectively “bankrupt” and struggling to wind down his business at the time.

  Mr Justice Sheehan said the sentencing judge was “perfectly correct” in holding that a custodial sentence was necessary and the Court of Appeal endorsed that view.

  However, in identifying an error in his sentence, Mr Justice Sheehan said O'Brien was entitled to have his personal qualities and contributions to his community taken into account as mitigating factors.

  O'Brien was a 60-year-old married man with a grown-up family who had clearly worked hard all his life and had a previous good character, the judge said.

  At one stage he employed 40 people and he was making a serious contribution to a particularly important agricultural industry, he added.

  Mr Justice Sheehan, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, said the court would leave the original sentence of 18 months in place but would suspend the final 6 months.

  O'Brien had admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a pig by failing to treat or euthanise it after it was found eaten alive with a large bleeding wound on its side at his farm on July 25 2011.

  He had also admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a pig by failing to treat or euthanise it after it had its flesh extensively eaten out of its ribcage on May 9 2011 and that he caused unnecessary suffering to a pig by failing to treat or euthanise it when it had swollen joints and serious abscesses on June 3 2011.

  O'Brien had also admitted failing to take the necessary measures to ensure the welfare of pigs under his control and that he failed to ensure the animals were not caused unnecessary suffering or injury by failing to treat or euthanise them between May 3 and September 8 2011.

  Furthermore, O’Brien had admitted that between June 7 and 10 2011, he failed to comply with a welfare notice relating to animals in his possession or under his control and care.