Farmer’s anguish as cattle ‘riddled with bullets’ by Irish Army marksmen

July 11, 2016

A County Monaghan farmer has spoken of his anger and devastation after soldiers from the Irish army shot dead five cattle on his farm.

The incident reportedly occurred following unsuccessful attempts by bankruptcy officials to recover assets.

John Hoey, who is originally from Culloville, says the horrific experience at his farm near Carrickmacross on Monday last, has “destroyed” him.

Shocking images emerging from the incident show five heifers lying dead on the grass with blood seeping out of their wounds.

“I ran behind the last one as they riddled her with bullets,” the devastated farmer said.

“They’re supposed to be helping me sell off my assets, not gunning them down in front of me.  These animals were worth a thousand a piece to anyone.  This has destroyed me.”

Official bankruptcy assignee, Chris Lehane, said the Defence Forces were called in to assist with the cull after all other possibilities were “exhausted”, and the operation was carried out with approval from the Department of Agriculture and the co-operation of gardaí.

Mr Lehane revealed that the farm has been visited over several weeks with extensive TB testing carried out with the Department of Agriculture.

“The results of those tests proved positive in the herd, greatly restricting what I could do with the animals,” he said.

However, Mr Hoey disputes this and says he was never shown any paperwork indicating the animals tested positive for the disease.

He revealed that 30 cows and calves were removed from the farm last month but officials failed to catch the five heifers last week after trying for eight hours.  The animals were “running for their lives” and headed towards the farmhouse when they were shot, he added.

“I could hear the shooting from my bedroom and I ran out and tried to save them,” he said.

“Can you imagine looking out your window and seeing your cattle getting mowed down in the field?  These animals did nothing to deserve what happened to them.  I was running behind the last animal as they riddled her with bullets. She dropped down dead in front of me.”

The Department of Agriculture said the Defence Forces carried out the “humane destruction” of the five animals due to a “significant concern for public safety”.

“This operation was carried out at the request of the official assignee responsible for the herd, in conjunction with An Garda Síochána, the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine and the Defence Forces, in keeping with official protocol,” the spokesperson said.