A Mulranny cattle dealer has been convicted after he pleaded guilty to a number of charges in relation to cattle he was buying and selling.
Patrick McNea of Rosturk, Mulranny, appeared before Achill District Court on a number of charges. These include failing to inform an agriculture officer from the Department of Agriculture of the whereabouts of a bovine animal; failing to have compliance certificates for the movement of cattle from one farm to another; and giving false and misleading information regarding the passports and compliance of four cattle. The dates of the offences ranged from September 20, 2009, to November 12, 2010.
The Supervising Agricultural Officer Martin Macken told the court that the cases came to light after Austin O’Malley from Lufferton, Ballyheane, Castlebar, came to the District Veterinary Offices in Michael Davitt House in Castlebar to seek passports (identification documents that all Irish cattle are required to have) and compliance certificates for four cattle he had been given by Patrick McNea.
When the cattle were checked, an animal identification tag registered to Andrew McTigue, a farmer in Ayle, Westport, was found on one animal. Mr McTigue refused to give Mr Macken the compliance certs, saying that Mr McNea hadn’t paid him for the cattle.
Mr McNea said that he had bought five cattle in Ayle and sold four to Mr O’Malley. Mr Macken said that McNea sold the fifth cow to someone in Ballycastle but could not give him a name. Mr Macken said he questioned McNea on June 4, 2011, and that Mr McNea said that when he was selling the cattle to Mr O’Malley, he did not bother with the paper work ‘there and then’ as Mr O’Malley was dressed up and looked like he was ‘going somewhere’.
He told Mr Macken he left the paperwork in a jeep which was scrapped some days later with the paperwork in it.
In response to a question from Judge Mary Devins, Mr Macken said that there was a responsibility on both the buyer and seller of cattle to have paperwork in order, but the DPP had chosen to prosecute Mr McNea in this case, and not Mr McTigue.
The court heard that McNea is 57 years old and married with four children, and that he did not own land but rented. However, since the offence, he had not dealt in cattle and was now involved in fishing.
Mr Macken told the court that these regulations were in place to ensure traceability in the beef and sheep industry.
“It’s how we sell our product abroad and it works very well. It is important that we can stand over a traceable industry. When co-operation is not forthcoming we have to take action,” he said.
Mr McNea was convicted of moving cattle without the required documentation at Lufferton, Ballyheane, Castlebar, and fined €500. The charge of failing to give the whereabouts of the missing cow was taken into consideration.