Over the past two days, like many Deputies, I have been inundated with calls from around the country from people who are disgusted by the disgraceful actions carried out against five Limousin heifers in County Monaghan. The killing of these heifers by marksmen from the Defence Forces is unjustifiable. Coming from that type of background, I am quite aware of some difficulties, especially with suckler calves because they are a bit wild. I never had any difficulty and I do not know anyone who had difficulty once they had a small bit of expertise and cop-on.
I want to know if this was sanctioned by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Defence. The owner said that all his cattle passed tests in December 2015. The newspapers quote Chris Lehane, if it is true, saying the cull had to be done because the cattle had failed TB tests. Coming from an agricultural background, I know that TB tests are carried out after slaughter. How could they have failed TB tests? One could have a reactor, take her to the abattoir, have her killed and do a proper test. That is how it is done. It is not done by observation. Mr. Lehane said there were positive tests. How many positive tests were there on cattle taken from Mr. Hoey's lands? I understand 30 cattle were taken last month. Of these 30 cattle, how many failed the TB tests? How many of them went into the food chain? If they pass the TB test, they go into the food chain. Prior to the removal of cattle from Mr. Hoey's land, was his land restricted? Was he restricted? Was he locked down? Of the five Limousin shot, how many failed a TB test? Will the Minister of State give a commitment here to get independent testing analysis of all the animals that were taken from Mr. Hoey's lands in order that we can all establish whether what was said in the newspapers was true or untrue?
These type of actions during repossessions of attacking people who are in a very bad state financially, many who are bankrupt as a result of it, are not happening in isolation. There is the case of Tommy Collins in County Clare. On 20 May 2016, gardaí brought people wearing masks to try to evict Tommy Collins from his home. There was a car present with four masked heavies in it. It had no tax or insurance and was in full view of the gardaí, yet nothing was done about it. What is happening now regarding evictions and repossessions is completely over the top. People who are in dire financial straits, whether it is because of a family home, family farm, cattle, machinery or house, deserve dignity and respect and to be treated properly. This is not what happened with the five Limousin heifers shot dead on a man's farm. The people removing them said they were not able to remove them so they had to shoot them. It is unjustifiable. As I said at the start, I have never had more calls or more people contacting me than I had regarding this terrible incident. I would like the Minister of State to clear up these questions.