Horrific cruelty endured by Irish cattle in Turkey“, Gabriel Paun, Animals International, Australia.

Ireland’s RTE Radio 1 early-Saturday-morning programme, Countrywide – the show that shares cups of tea in isolated rural kitchens and is presented by broadcaster Damien O’Reilly with a view to “feature the events, people and happenings that bring colour and life to communities, towns and villages across the country” – dropped a bomb in the middle of this year’s May Day celebrations, the rural ones (not the urban proletariat kind), those with traditions going back hundreds of years in a country whose past, apparently, is mostly hidden down side-roads with overgrown hedges and the life of a people that seems to survive despite our appalling history and these shiny new lies that we tell ourselves, medicated with the money pouring in from anywhere that cares to buy anything we care to sell: “Good Morning and Welcome to CountryWide...” and this morning: the nightmare and cruelty of our live livestock export business.

The report follows an 8-month long Animals International (the animal advocacy campaigning organisation) investigation, which, they say, has revealed a global animal welfare crisis that requires “a global response”. A number of newspapers picked up on the investigation early in April in response to the organisation’s footage (photographic and video) of animal cruelty.

Gabriel Paun, who is EU Director of the organisation, told Damien O’Reilly that abuse of animals is standard practice in abattoirs in Turkey. Their investigators visited and filmed in 9 slaughterhouses. The details are grim and fly in the face of accepted animal welfare practices based on the work of Temple Grandin who became famous among non-vegetarians for her research into humane ways of slaughtering animals for human consumption.

The export of live cattle from Ireland has just resumed to Turkey having been suspended after the European BSE scare of 1989. The first mass transport took place on September 19, when approximately 1,694 cattle were shipped to northern Turkey, arriving on October 3. This was a shipment witnessed by Gabriel Paun who stated that the animals arrived covered in faeces and were beaten with prods before being cruelly slaughtered, without being stunned…

85,000 Irish cattle have been shipped from Ireland to Europe and the middle east since the start of the year including a shipment at the end of April of 3,000 cattle to Turkey, currently in the grip of a political crisis with a crackdown on civil rights and liberties alongside a vicious war being waged against the Kurdish PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and the Kurdish people of Northern Kurdistan, south east Turkey…

The Irish Times reports: “Ireland is currently the fourth-largest beef exporter by value after the United States, Australia and the Netherlands…and consumes only 10% of the meat it produces annually.” A business which is worth 100 million euros annually. The shipments are licensed by the Irish Government’s Department of Agriculture which is responsible for the welfare of the animals being transported…

Gabriel Paun’s story, unfortunately is of a different nature and one where profit and business offer little room for humanity or being humane, with his record of the suffering inflicted on animals – electric prods at port, cattle being hoisted on one leg for their throat to be slit, multiple cuts, special devices used to trap animals for throat cutting…

“In one particular case I was personally there in the port of Derince in Turkey……when the first shipment in a long time had been sent from Ireland to Turkey and we had the chance to see the vessel approaching, entering the harbour, filming the unloading of the animals. These animals were born and bred into Irish care under Irish laws so this comes back to whether the Irish community deem it acceptable for their cattle to be transported and slaughtered in such a way..”

…The details of which, John Mooney in The (English) Times graphically writes:

“The young bullock looks wild-eyed as it is kicked, beaten and poked with an electrical prod by workmen in the Turkish slaughterhouse. Once the animal is forced into position, a chain is wrapped around a leg, allowing it to be hoisted into the air. Dangling by one leg, the animal kicks and flails as a man approaches with a large knife and proceeds to slit its throat.

Blood flows from the wound, which almost severs the animal’s head from its body. Elsewhere, another bullock appears to be trembling with terror as it watches the cattle in front being slaughtered.

This instance of animal cruelty is repeated dozens of times on the cattle, which have been exported from the European Union to Turkey on giant cargo ships as part of a burgeoning trade. If such methods of slaughter were used at abattoirs inside the EU, criminal investigations would ensue and closure notices would be served on the slaughterhouses involved.”

In the CountryWide interview on April 29th, Gabriel Paun said simply: “No amount of profit can justify this.”

Other practices outlined by Mr. Paun and covered in the Irish Times report in early April: “Videos and pictures, copies of which have been obtained by The Irish Times”:

  • clear breaches of EU regulations in the transport and slaughter of animals wearing EU ear tags. Animals International listed Ireland, France and Poland, among other EU countries as being the origin of these tags.
  • Extremely graphic in their content, the videos show animals hoisted by one hind leg, spinning on a chain as a man with a knife makes several slashes at their necks with an knife.
  • Other images show an animals being stabbed in the eyes, having leg tendons cut while others have their heads and necks restrained by devices covered in the blood from earlier killings.
  • In some videos the animals are encased in a machine which rotates them upside down.
  • Animals International makes the point that the methods of killing is not Halal which, it says, requires that the animals do not suffer and which allows for animals to be stunned before being killed.

When RTE’s Damian O’Reilly stresses that Irish government officials are happy at the standards of care and that Irish animal welfare is considered the best in Europe Gabriel Paun asks if Irish government officials have travelled to witness these conditions or indeed if the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICFSA), also represented on the programme, has similarly witnessed what his own organisation has recorded..? When RTE checked with the Department on the shipment mentioned they were told a private veterinary practitioner had accompanied the shipment and the unloading was monitored by a Department Inspector who said: “the cattle were well rested, in good condition and were fed following landing…”

A tale of two cities or rather two worlds..? Someone has got it wrong and is either blind or hallucinating and when it comes to money and the copious evidence now being leaked by animal rights activists of practices involving the commodification of animals at any (welfare) costs it might not be hard to choose who to believe?

In response, Patrick Kent, a cattle and sheep farmer from Wexford, in the south-east of Ireland, and president of the ICSFA since early 2014 said that isolated transgressions are being used to promote a vegan ideology:

“We do not want any propaganda material trying to tarnish our industry…” he said. Mr. Kent stressed the need for more live shipments in response to the threats posed by Britain’s exit from the European Union as well as ensuring competition for the Irish farmers who would otherwise be completely dependent on a number of large scale meat plants “which have a long record of paying beef farmers the lowest price possible”.

Once again, sadly, profit before animal welfare? Or human compassion?

The Irish Department  of Agriculture, Food  and  the  Marine in their statement to RTE said: “Cattle on board a livestock ship departing from Ireland are typically bedded and penned in conditions very similar to cattle in any feed lot or cattle shed…At the time of the first shipment at end of September 2016, a private veterinary practitioner accompanied the load from Ireland to Turkey and the unloading of the cattle was monitored by a DAFM veterinary inspector who reported that the cattle were well rested, in good condition and were fed following landing.”

“This is totally the opposite to what I have seen” Gabriel Paun told Damien O’Reilly.

Despite the Irish officials bland statements, it seems the European Commission takes Gabriel Paun’s concerns seriously. The Irish Times reports:

“Animals International has provided the EU institutions with copies of its findings and MEPs from the European Parliament’s Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals have initiated a procedure for a formal inquiry. A spokeswoman said the videos showed ‘clear breaches of EU laws.’

A 2015 European Court of Justice decision ruled that any transport provided taking livestock from the EU to a third country must ensure that animal care met EU standards. The country of origin is responsible for this, said Mr Paun. He added there was clear evidence in the videos that there was poor enforcement of this law.”

It is appalling to think that such suffering and cruelty in general and apparently as the norm in a lot of countries, including the Republic of Turkey, can be perpetuated for a largely overfed population in the interest of a market that not alone knows nothing of compassion but also has no respect for the sustainability or endurance of our planet and what’s worse adds a smokescreen of respectability to cover the brutality of profit at any cost…

Alongside the mounting evidence of the health risks of eating meat: “The United Nations has called for ‘a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products’ in order to avoid global environmental devastation. But rich live export companies are pushing for the exact opposite — while subjecting animals to extreme cruelty.”

After its programme on the 29th April, CountryWide tweeted: “Turkey. No proof that irish cattle are slaughtered this way BUT no proof they’re not either. Transparency v difficult in some of mid east.” To which Lynn O’Keeffe-Lascar, a gardener from Galway, replied:

“Why live export at all? Why not value add here by processing in Ireland? Are we a developed nation with a high end product or not?

Cruelty to animals on their way to your plate is of mounting concern. A brief scan of newspaper reports (let alone reports from the animal welfare organisations):

  • April 1998, the Irish Independent: Shocking new video footage shows cruel treatment of cattle exported from Ireland and other EU countries to Lebanon.
  • Also in 1998, Compassion in World Farming: In an investigation by Compassion in World Farming back in 1998, very inhumane treatment of cattle from Germany and Ireland was filmed in slaughterhouses in the Lebanon, including this Irish bull awaiting slaughter with one leg tied high to the side of a truck, struggling desperately – (image provided).
  • March 2014, the Mail Online: Meat from cattle slaughtered in ‘cruel’ kosher method (The Jewish ‘shechita’ method of slaughter – the practice of slitting an animal’s throat and allowing it to bleed to death ) is in your high street burger!
  • October, 2014: The Irish cattle bound for Libya are being ‘beaten, stabbed, dragged by the eye sockets’…
  • May 2015, the Irish Mirror: Live cattle ‘slaughtered with sledgehammers’ at abattoir in Vietnam…
  • March 2016, ie: An investigation has been launched by the French Ministry for Agriculture after an undercover video showed animal abuse at an abattoir in the south of France.

Gabriel Paun summarised the work of Animals International over the last eight months:

“This investigation reveals an abject failure by EU officials to monitor live animal export.  Animals raised in European care are being transported in manners that are in breach of EU regulations and they are enduring horrific slaughter practices in breach of international agreements.”

Following release of the information the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) called “for an immediate suspension of live exports of cattle to non-EU countries following reports in the Irish Times on Saturday 1st April of Irish cattle arriving in Turkey covered in faeces and being loaded on to open topped, over-crowded trucks to be transported to slaughterhouses.

In addition, extremely graphic videos filmed by Australian animal rights group Animals International in slaughterhouses in Turkey and Egypt (and seen by the ISPCA) show horrific treatment of cattle before and during slaughter. These practices would be illegal in Ireland and the rest of the EU. Ireland renewed live transport of cattle to Turkey with around 40,000 being transported by ship to Turkey, a journey of nearly two weeks. Egypt has agreed to import up to 100,000 cattle from Ireland in 2017.”

Patrick Kent, speaking for the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association on CountryWide, is heading out to Turkey this week. It is hoped that, if he happens to find anything of concern there, as did Gabriel Paun, that he will not find himself on trial under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code which “makes it illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish nation, or Turkish government institutions” as so many Turkish citizens, critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have found to their detriment in recent times…though, chances are, he won’t need to worry:

“I am going to reassure Irish farmers that the animals are going to good conditions and being properly treated and all. I’ve spoken to people who have worked on these ships, travelled myself to Italy and seen cattle coming off trucks that have been travelling for a quite a while and they get off in very good conditions…Rural Ireland is dependent on live exports…I refute a lot of these allegations.”

It might appear wiser to wait until after visiting the Turkish abattoirs, before making a judgment?  But, in the end, it should not be up to one farming organisation to determine national policy as regards animal welfare and ending cruelty. As Gabriel Paun indicated, it is:

…whether the Irish community deem it acceptable for their cattle to be transported and slaughtered in such a way.”

Certainly not. There is enough evidence already. Just go online and search on Youtube or Vimeo. And prepare to be shocked and sickened. And worse…

Time to stop the export of live animals to countries who show no awareness of the need for animal welfare and instead seem willing to wallow in a nightmarish world of inhumanity and cruelty.

séamas carraher

Sources & References


Still from: Tony, video:


RTE:!rii=b9_10717234_1523_29-04-2017_ (at 36mins and 27 seconds – to 48mins 38 seconds)

Other References:

Animal Rights / Animal Welfare:



Please sign the petition to stop long distance transport of livestock at:    #stopthetrucks


A live animal is not a sack of potatoes. He breathes. He thinks.


Animals Australia Live Export Turkey Investigation 2011

StopTheTrucks – Animals International

#StopTheTrucks – End long distance transport of live animals

Shocking ‘International Standards’ for live animal export

Without Care: The export of live animals from the EU to Turkey

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals): The REAL Price of Meat | One Cow’s Heartbreaking Trip to Slaughter

Export dairy- pregnant cow slaughtered in Turkey with newborn calf


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