Shannonside Foods Operations Fully Suspended Amid Equine Welfare Scandal

In a significant and necessary move, the Department of Agriculture has fully suspended operations at Shannonside Foods, the equine abattoir at the centre of a harrowing investigation into the mistreatment of horses.

“Absolutely Abhorrent Mistreatment”

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue confirmed the suspension, stating, “My department is actively investigating the absolutely abhorrent mistreatment of animals and suspected criminality we witnessed on the RTÉ Prime Time Investigates programme that aired this week. This is being done with the full support of An Garda Síochána.” He emphasised that “the full rigour of the law will be applied where warranted, and no stone left unturned.”

Damning Expose

Last Wednesday, RTÉ Investigates aired a program that revealed egregious abuses at Shannonside Foods. Undercover cameras captured one of the animal welfare officers inserting false identification microchips into horses and using spray paint to alter their color markings. The footage also showed horses being whipped and struck with long lengths of plastic piping, highlighting the brutal treatment of dying animals.

In response to these revelations, the Department of Agriculture confirmed that no animals slaughtered at the plant over the past three weeks have entered the food chain. All horse carcasses presented at the plant within the last week have been detained. An investigation into the supply of equines for slaughter is ongoing, with recent weeks seeing a legal notice prohibiting the presence or entry of horses to the adjacent holding premises at Shannonside Foods, where much of the distressing footage was filmed.

Owner’s Weak Defence

Despite the overwhelming evidence, John Joe Fitzpatrick, the owner of Shannonside Foods, has made shocking statements attempting to downplay the severity of the situation. Fitzpatrick claimed he saw the program but dismissed it, saying, “there was a whole load of wrong stuff in it.” This blatant denial is a slap in the face to all who witnessed the clear abuse documented in the footage.

Adding further insult, Fitzpatrick attempted to justify the mistreatment by stating, “We are dealing with horses that have never been trained, that were never caught in their lives. Most of them horses were running wild since they were young.” This statement starkly contradicts the clear evidence of deliberate and cruel actions against horses including by his son Aaron, one of their Equine Welfare Officers, oh the irony. It is sad. It is sick to see. We hope they are both are dealt with to the full extent of the law.

Community Outrage and Action

In response to the shocking revelations, hundreds of protesters gathered outside Shannonside Foods in Straffan, Co Kildare, on Saturday morning. Maddie Doyle, a dedicated volunteer at My Lovely Horse Rescue (MLHR) for over a decade, described the scene: “It is callous. You would need a whole lot of words to describe what happened in Shannonside. It is horrific and unthinkable.”

Doyle highlighted the widespread breaches of animal welfare, stating, “It is probably some of the worst that we have come across. We have had an extraordinary number of messages from members of the public who have seen the documentary. Others read about it but could not necessarily bring themselves to watch it.”

Martina Kenny, co-founder of MLHR, called for decisive action, urging authorities to move swiftly: “They need to move on it. Because the whole country is in an uproar about this.”

An Ongoing Investigation

The Department of Agriculture and An Garda Síochána have launched comprehensive investigations into the practices at Shannonside Foods. The Minister reiterated the commitment to a thorough and unbiased investigation, emphasising the collaboration with law enforcement to ensure accountability and justice.

Public Calls for Justice

As the investigation continues, the public’s outrage grows. The grotesque cruelty and blatant disregard for animal welfare displayed at Shannonside Foods have galvanised a movement demanding strict enforcement of animal protection laws and severe penalties for those responsible.

We Will Not Let This Go

The dedication of activists, caring equestrians and the overwhelming support from the community highlight a collective resolve to ensure justice for the abused horses. My Lovely Horse Rescue and other advocates continue to call for transparency, accountability, and swift action to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again.

As the story unfolds, one thing remains clear: We will not let this go.

Together, we stand firm against cruelty and corruption. Together, we demand justice. Together, we will make a difference.


Shannonside Foods Operations Fully Suspended Amid Equine Welfare Scandal

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