'70,000 horses unaccounted for in NI'

Published Monday, 11 February 2013
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As the scandal over contaminated meat continues, the House of Commons has heard claims that there are an estimated 70,000 horses unaccounted for in Northern Ireland.

'70,000 horses unaccounted for in NI'
Meat products have been removed from store shevles following the revelations. (© Getty)

Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary, Mary Creagh, said unwanted horses are being given false paperwork in NI, then sold for €10 and resold to dealers for meat for as much as €500, during a discussion of the crisis on Monday.

She added that there is a "lucrative" trade in the animals, and claimed that while the issue is being linked to Poland, its origins are closer to home.

"The Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have clear evidence of an illegal trade of unfit horses from Ireland to the UK for meat, with horses being re-passported to meet demands for horse meat in mainland Europe," Ms Creagh said.

"It says that there are currently 70,000 horses unaccounted for in Northern Ireland. Unwanted horses are being sold for €10 and being sold on for meat for €500 - a lucrative trade.

"It is very convenient to blame the Poles and the Romanians but so far neither country have found any problems with their beef abattoirs."

William McCrea of the DUP said the revelations regarding meat in the UK and Republic of Ireland in recent weeks have "seriously damaged public confidence in the safety of our food".

He said the only way to restore that confidence would be to "find out who has done this illegal activity, put them out of business and bring them before the courts".

Meanwhile the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, moved to allay fears over supermarkets selling contaminated meat products.

He said that unless products had been designated as unsafe by the Food Standards Agency, consumers should not worry.

"The advice on food is very, very simple," he said, responding to Ms Creagh.

"I have been completely consistent on this. I have been absolutely clear, the independent agency which gives professional advice is the Food Standards Agency.

"I, you, MPs, and the public should follow their advice - so as long as products are free for sale and they have not been recommended for withdrawal by the Food Standards Agency, they are safe for human consumption."

He added that it appeared "criminal activity" has been at the heart of the scandal.

© UTV News
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9 Comments
Tommy Atkins in London, England wrote (654 days ago):
Gerry in Bangor If you need recipes for horse meat you may want to check with Willie Frazer. I think Willie claims that the IRA have a big recipe book on that. I think Willie got that he got that straight from,,the "Horses mouth, or perhaps the other end!"
Ady in Tyrone wrote (655 days ago):
The next time you are offered the choice of " Beef or salmon " at a wedding it may be wise to make sure its not the locally owned ex-champion racehorse of that name.
Belfast in Belfast wrote (655 days ago):
This is really no joking matter. Apart from deceiving the public, there is also a serious animal welfare issue here. The pasport scheme to trace the whereabouts of all horses and ponies has done nothing to stop british and irish horses ending up on plates. I grew up with horses and worked in the racing industry for many years and, have watched sick, injured, and slow horses being sent off to slaughter. I dont agree with the slaughter but as long as thouroughbreds are over bred, they have to end up somewhere. If the goverment had not have stopped allowing farmers, breeders, trainers etc.... to euthanize and bury the bodies of these unwanted animals on their own land, this would not be an issue today. The disposal of a horse can cost up to £1000 so of course some people are going to send them to slaughter instead and make a few quid. Just dont want meat contaminated with bute and other dangerous drugs ending up on my plate.
Phil in Belfast wrote (655 days ago):
Have to wonder if Willie Frazer was right.
Special Branch in Belfast wrote (655 days ago):
Apparantly after the Shergar/IRA incident, these horses were given false passports/identities and are now living happy lives on green pastures in Romania.
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