This shocking report into the Irish roots of the horsemeat scandal goes undercover to reveal a systematic criminal harvest of thousands of horses, which netted millions and stretches well beyond Ireland’s borders.
“Nobody bothered asking the question, where are all the Irish horses going?”, says animal rights activist Stephen Philpott, who ran a surveillance operation on gangs smuggling thousands of unwanted horses across the border for illegal slaughter.”Five years ago horses like that were everywhere.” It was all an unexpected consequence of the global financial crisis. When the bubble burst in Ireland, expensive horses were dumped and left to fend for themselves in parks, fields and by the side of the road. It wasn’t long before criminal gangs got in on the action. One whistle blower, who is now in fear of his life, admits forging passports for the horses to get them across borders. He says these fakes were never checked. He also reveals how horses too weak to travel were routinely drugged to make sure they arrived at the abattoir still alive. “If you could get it up the ramp it would be on”, he says. Alan Reilly, CEO of the Food Standards Authority, explains how “there are over 26 countries in Europe who are now involved”. But in this scandal, nobody – from the supermarkets to the suppliers – is accepting blame.