GARDAÍ have confirmed they are liaising with the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) in relation to an investigation into the deaths of several hundred bull calves on a farm in County Limerick.
Reports suggest that up to 400 dead calves, predominantly Friesian and Jersey breeds, were discovered in a decomposed state on a farm in the south of the county on August 29.
The discovery was made following a complaint from a neighbour over a smell coming from the farm.
A Garda spokesman confirmed that Gardaí are currently liaising with the DAFM who are the lead agency in the investigation, although Garda involvement would indicate an escalation of the initial probe.
A source said that criminal charges may follow if investigators are satisfied that they have clear evidence that the dead calves were neglected or mistreated.
A spokeswoman for the Irish Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) said it was “made aware of a situation allegedly involving a large number of dead calves on August 29, and has offered its assistance to DAFM if required”.
Limerick City and County Council said it was also aware of “an incident” and was also liaising with the Department.
Speaking on Tuesday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said such incidents were damaging to Ireland’s international reputation as a food producer and he promised a full investigation into the matter.
“This goes to the heart of Ireland’s sustainability as a food-producing country and to our reputation in terms of animal welfare. It’s extremely important that we get to the bottom of this particular issue,” he explained.
“It’s unacceptable and horrific and it ultimately damages that reputation that we have carefully built up as a country.”
“The Government will take this very seriously and make sure no stone is left unturned in terms of pursuing the origins of this and who is responsible because it goes to the very heart of our efforts as a country, a green country with sustainable production methods that this needs to stop,” the Taoiseach added.
A DAFM spokesman said that the matter is subject to an ongoing investigation and no further comment will be made at this time.