Cattle thefts from local farms linked to illegal abbatoirs

G8 Meeting in Townhall
POLICE in Fermanagh are becoming increasingly concerned at the ‘lax’ security on farms from where livestock and valuable machinery and tools have been stolen.

Currently, detectives are investigating a report of three cattle missing from the Doagh, Derrygonnelly. Police were only notified on Thursday, November 7, but the animals could have gone missing between end of September and that date.

They are a Limousin cow, a  3-4 months old Charolais calf, and a red and white shorthorn heifer.

Last Wednesday, six adult cattle carcasses were found near the Ravensdale Forest in County Louth.


The carcasses were inspected by a vet, and the Garda believe the animals had been professionally butchered and intended to be sold for human consumption.

A Garda spokesman said officers were concerned than an illegal meat boning plant may be operating in the area.

At last week’s meeting of the Fermanagh Policing and Community Safety Partnership, the PSNI area commander for Fermanagh, Chief Inspector Sue Steen reported a slight (minus 5) reduction in the number of agricultural thefts in the six months from April this year to September 30 last.

However, she revealed that, ‘in a significant number’ of thefts, farm security was insufficient, with stolen items left in unlocked sheds.

But, security awareness seems to be increasing.

She told the members that the Fermanagh South neighbourhood policing team had been invited to Coonian Parish Hall to speak about the Farm Watch and Neighbour Hood Watch scheme.

“This is a rural area which of late has seen a number of incidents of criminal activity, and I am pleased to report that 20 farmers have signed up to the Farmwatch scheme”, she added.


The modus operandi of cattle rustlers was highlighted in a Dublin Sunday newspaper where a Laois farmer had five ready for slaughter singled out and taken from a 10-strong herd during the night.

James Conroy told the ‘Sunday Independent’ that the rustlers were so effective that he thought the five missing animals had broken into a neighbour’s field.

“These fellows were no clowns. It was night, the field is a mile and a half down the road and, yet, they still managed to leave behind the five lightest ones and take the cattle that were going to slaughter in a week or two.”

He estimated he was €8,000 out of pocket in that cattle are not insured against rustling.

The chairman of the Irish Farmers Association told the paper that rustled cattle presented health risks.

“They cannot be sent to licensed slaughter houses. They have to be taken to out of the way abbatoirs to be chopped up and sold from vans. The carcasses are then dumped.”

UUP MLA, Robin Swann has previously raised concerns over his fear that cattle is being stolen in Northern Ireland and taken across the border to illegal meat plants.

He commented: “I first raised this issue in September when in an answer to a question I posed to the Agriculture Minister, she detailed that over 9,000 cattle had been reported as missing or stolen in Northern Ireland over the last three years.’

“The numbers disappearing suggested that this is a more organised operation than opportunistic thieves. I believe we are now seeing evidence of where these cattle are ending up,” he claimed.

Meanwhile, anyone who can help police with their enquiries into the missing Derrygonnelly cattle is asked to contact them on 0845 600 8000.

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