70,000 horses claim 'slip of the tongue'

Published Tuesday, 12 February 2013
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Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh has corrected herself after she wrongly claimed there were 70,000 horses unaccounted for in Northern Ireland.

70,000 horses claim 'slip of the tongue'
The meat scandal is now being linked to fraud in Europe. (© Getty)

Labour MP Ms Creagh said the comment, made in the House of Commons on Monday, was a "slip of the tongue".

The figure, attributed to the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, actually refers to the whole island of Ireland.

Ms Creagh made the clarification after she was challenged by DUP MP Ian Paisley during a debate on the horsemeat scandal in the Commons on Tuesday.

He said: "That this is not the case, that is was indeed the Republic of Ireland, not Northern Ireland that the evidence relates to and that the USPCA is a very responsible organisation and did not actually make the claims about NI but made them about the Republic.

"Would she join me now in a cross-party promotion of the Northern Ireland red meat sector which is amongst the best, most traced and tastiest food in this country?"

She replied: "I'm happy for the record to be put straight on that. In the heat of the debate that was a slip of the tongue.

"Of course as the granddaughter of a cattle farmer in Northern Ireland it is imperative and incumbent upon me to recommend the meat of the good cows of Northern Ireland."

Meanwhile the contaminated meat scandal has been discussed at Stormont during a joint meeting of the agriculture and health committees.

Robert Huey, deputy chief veterinary officer in Northern Ireland, told the politicians that he did not recognise Labour's 70,000 horses claim.

"I do not know what the basis of it is," he said.

The committees were briefed by Gerry McCurdy of the Food Standards Agency, who said there is information linking the issue to fraudulent activity in Europe.

He explained that the investigation still had some way to go, but added that differences in the price of beef and horse could be at the source of criminal activity.

"If you are selling horsemeat, someone said for £700 a tonne versus £3,000 a tonne, for anyone who is in the game of being fraudulent there is an extremely helpful financial incentive there for them to break down product," Mr McCurdy said.

"The information available to us does point in the direction of Europe but we cannot be definitive about that at this point in time until those investigations are complete."

He said 18 countries are involved in the process and negotiations have been taking place with individual member states of the EU and the European Commission.

On Tuesday evening raids took place at a slaughterhouse and meat firm.

Work was suspended at Peter Boddy Licensed Slaughterhouse, in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, and Farmbox Meats Ltd, of Llandre near Aberystwyth.

Police and the Food Standards Agency were involved in the operations.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Rebecca Perdell in UK wrote (717 days ago):
I totally agree that you can dress it up as much as you like be it cow, horse or pig, slaughtering is wrong full stop!
lorna in limavady wrote (718 days ago):
It is about time our farmers was allowed to produce beef of our own country instead of the EU telling us who we buy meat from. Farmers are paid for land "set aside " for the wild life instead of good home grown food we import from countries that has no restrictions on how they treat their animals. Farmers have to keep records on injections the animal has had. We can keep on guessing who was responsible for horse meat getting into the food chain.. I know who my chief suspect are.Those who laundered the car fuel.ect
Breandán in Belfast, Ireland wrote (718 days ago):
Slaughtering all animals is murder. What about the rights of animals? No animals should be slaughtered!!
Barry in Broughshane wrote (719 days ago):
I think Ms Creagh had a touch of foot in mouth here!
G in Ni wrote (719 days ago):
Theres me thinking the food industry was strictly regulated.How can horse meat make it's way into beef products? The amount of people involved in slaughtering ,butchering ,packing,storing and delivering as well as the people who are supposed to be testing everything and noone knows until now?
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