A formal complaint has been lodged to the European Commission recently, over what is claimed to be systematic failures by Ireland to abide by EU legislation with regards to the protection of animals during transport.
The news was reported by RTÉ news earlier today and the complaint was lodged by four animal welfare organisations. They urged the Commission to initiate infringement proceedings against Ireland for breaches in animal transport regulations. They say these date back as far as 1999.
One of the animal welfare organisations behind the complaint is Dutch NGO, ‘Eyes on Animals’.
They claim the latest breach was brought to their attention during the transportation of 2-4week old calves from Ireland to France. The calves were transported by sea to Cherbourg in France and then transported elsewhere in Europe.
The group claim that concerns arose after breaches to Eu council Regulation 1/2005, which states that mandatory rest periods must be given to young animals, while they must also be given access to food and water during transportation. For journeys in excess of 18 hours by sea, any unweaned calves must be unloaded every 18 hours, fed and given a chance to rest. Should this 18-hour limit be exceeded, all calves must be unloaded for at least 12 hours upon arrival at the destination.
‘Eyes on Animal’ claim in their complaint that this did not happen on a high number of Irish calf trips. One case was mentioned, where some trucks were observed driving their lorries for a further five hours after docking at port in France, before giving calves the mandatory rest period.
They also claim that there was one incident where a driver had a consignment of calves on the truck for over 32-hours. The group say situations like these seriously compromise the welfare of the calves, causing them to be extremely thirsty and hungry.
The Letter -
The letter also moves to highlight a number of other breaches, one of which relates to access to water.
Another complaint was in regards to the number of attendants on the ferry, with NGO ‘Compassion in World Farming’ (CIWF) reporting one incident where there were three drivers responsible for caring for almost 5,000 animals.
CIWF also express their concern that the Department of Agriculture seem to have approved the journey logs in advance of consignments leaving the country, knowing they were in breach of regulations.
Response from the Department -
The Department of Agriculture have responded to the claims, pointing to the recent extreme weather conditions as a reason behind the increased pressure on live-export transport arrangements.
They also noted that there were some instances where rest and feed stations, which is why they gave permission to transporters to continue their journey.
The Department acknowledges in circumstances where resting and feeding stations were full they did issue permission to transporters to drive on. ‘Eyes on Animals’ reported that these rest periods could have been implemented in areas closer to Cherbourg, though the drivers chose instead to continue driving. The department have confirmed that those transporters have been penalised as a result, following a complete investigation.
The department say from 2019 onwards, they will insist that all companies exporting calves must use rest and feeding stations close to Cherbourg port. They say it is no longer permitted to use the rest and feeding station which was featured in their investigation and is located five hours from the port.
They are in the process of communicating these new list of instructions to livestock exporters.
They say from 2019 they will be insisting that all calf exporters use the rest and feeding stations nearest the port of Cherbourg, adding it will no longer be acceptable to avail of the rest and feeding station used in this investigation situated some five hours' drive away.