Fraud probe amid foot and mouth fears

Thursday, March 01, 2001
Irish Agriculture Department officials were today investigating suspicions that fraud was involved in the movement of a consignment of 248 lambs believed to have come from a farm in Northern Ireland which is at the centre of a foot-and-mouth scare.

The lambs were delivered to the Kepak meat plant, at Athleague, County Roscommon one of the Irish Republic’s biggest sheep and meat processing factories last Tuesday, and were slaughtered immediately.

They were delivered in the name of a Roscommon sheep farmer.

But subsequent investigations by the department have established that the animals did not belong to the man whose name was used.

Meanwhile, the department has banned all movement of livestock within the Irish Republic, except for animals going direct from farm to slaughter, in a bid to avert the first case of foot-and-mouth in the state since 1941.

But the suspect animals reached Athleague two days before the Government banned all livestock imports from Northern Ireland in response to the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Junior agriculture minister Noel Davern told RTE Radio: ‘‘We are not happy with the answers we are getting, but we are happy that all the animals which arrived there have been slaughtered.

‘‘There may be an investigation for fraud in this area. We have somebody who said they were entered in their name, we understand the cheque was paid in their name, but they say they have nothing to do with it.

‘‘We have to make sure that everybody who is involved in this sort of thing, endangering our health status in this country, is fully prosecuted.’’