Farmer to pay €10k after failing to comply with court order

A farmer has been ordered to pay €10,000 in fines and costs after he failed to comply with a court order to reduce his stock levels.

Anthony Donoghue (69 ) of Mullahoran, Kilcogey, Cavan has had since May to follow a Department of Agriculture plan to reduce his sheep, cattle, and horse numbers but failed to do so.

The Department will step in to seize the extra animals and they will be sold.

Donoghue first appeared before Mullingar District Court in January 2012 on 10 summonses, mostly for breaches of animal welfare legislation on leased lands at Lismacaffrey, Westmeath in 2011.

Judge Seamus Hughes convicted and fined him €1,000 each on a sample of four of those charges and said he couldn’t get through to the bachelor farmer who refused to do what the court ordered.

The fines and €6,000 costs will be paid from a deposit of €10,000 lodged with the court on a previous date.

In May Donoghue was ordered to dispose of all his cows, reduce his cattle numbers to 40 and keep no more than 140 sheep and t10 horses.

However, Ronan Halpin from the Department of Agriculture said he has 71 cattle including 19 cows, 157 sheep, and 34 horses.

He said Donoghue bought three bovines since the last May and has failed to manage his herd register.

Department officials read his cattle last week and found seven animals had no tags and eight were unregistered.

A rotting sheep carcass was also found recently, in spite of a prosecution before the court for failing to safely dispose of an animal under the Control of Dogs Act.

Solicitor Cliodhna Sheridan said Donoghue had begun to reduce his stock levels and would continue to do so in the spring.

She said her client had never been deliberately cruel to animals in his care.

Mr Donoghue said he was waiting for a Belgian buyer to take horses he had sold him in late summer, and that he’d been unable to tag some cattle because he couldn’t find out their registration numbers.

But Judge Hughes was concerned about his ability to feed the animals and evidence from Mr Halpin that a large number of cows are now over-wintering in an unsuitable field which is already waterlogged and poached.

The judge said the Department’s work is important to protect the reputation of the national herd and told Donoghue he didn’t want to see him in court again.

He said that because of his advanced age, Donoghue should cut back on his enterprise so that he can enjoy the animals he will have.

We all find it difficult to recognise our own inadequacies, he concluded.

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