The Sinn Féin EU candidate for the Midlands North West constituency, Matt Carthy, has said that failure to deal with the issue of cattle thefts has the potential to damage the entire beef industry.
Carthy made his comments following a meeting of the Joint Policing Committee in Monaghan which discussed the issue on his request.
Cllr Carthy said:
“Cattle theft is on the rise. In 2012 in Monaghan there were 21 cattle stolen (as well as 9 sheep). This shot up exponentially in 2013 to 59 cattle.
“In response to a recent parliamentary question tabled by Sinn Féin, the Minister for Agriculture stated that in 2012 and 2013 (up to December 5th) some 431 cattle were recorded as stolen across the state. 315 of those were in the 15 counties of the Midlands North West constituency.
“This is a growing problem and one which must be tackled without delay.
“There is a need for increased Garda presence in rural areas. Government policies of closing rural Garda stations and cutting back on the number of Gardaí on the ground have contributed to this serious problem.
“There also needs to be a full and speedy investigation into where this stolen beef is going. It is likely that it is entering the food chain in an unregulated manner. This has the potential to do untold damage to the entire beef sector.
“Lastly the Minister for Agriculture must give consideration to a compensation scheme for farmers who have been affected by these thefts, especially as farmers cannot secure insurance to cover such an eventuality.
“It is an imperative that the government treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves. The livelihoods of hundreds of farmers across rural Ireland may depend on the government taking swift, decisive action on this issue.”