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13th Jun 2024

Viewers shocked at ‘sickening’ RTÉ investigation into horse industry

Simon Kelly

RTE Investigations horse abuse

The horse racing industry receives €76 million in State support this year.

Viewers have expressed their shock at a ‘sickening’ new RTÉ Investigates documentary looking into the animal abuse in the horse industry.

The documentary, Horses – Making a Killing, aired on RTÉ One on Wednesday night and used a series of hidden cameras to expose the cruelty going on behind closed doors.

The focus was on Ireland’s only licensed equine abattoir, by Shannonside Foods Ltd in Straffan, where horses are sent to slaughter.

The cameras focused in particular on a lairage shed (where animals are rested before slaughter) which showed horses being whipped with long plastic piping, with one being hit in the head multiple times.

Another example of abuse shows a struggling horse falling over before being prodded with a pitchfork to force it up. The horse died hours after.

Viewers shocked at ‘sickening’ RTÉ investigation into horse industry

The investigation led to a very strong reaction from viewers across the country about the abuse going on within the industry.

One viewer expressed their shock: “Absolutely sickening. Well done all involved in this expose.”

Another said: “Is even one person remotely surprised yet again? This is horrendous.”

A third added: “A brilliant show, Tough to watch at times though, it would be great to see and hear of people getting prosecuted for this horrific abuse.”

Another said: “This is the most upsetting episode of Prime Time Investigates I’ve ever watched.”

Two-thirds of the horses involved in the investigation turned out to be thoroughbred racehorses who raced over 3,000 times, earning their owners more than €1.5 million.

Professor Christopher Elliot, founder of Queen’s University Belfast’s Institute for Global Food Security: “I’ve visited lairages and slaughterhouses for probably about 45 years. I have never seen anything like this.

“This is … like nothing I have seen ever experienced before, it’s just is unbelievably distressing.”

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has confirmed that the government have already initiated an investigation into the horrific treatment.

The second part of RTÉ Investigates: Horses – Making a Killing airs tonight at 9.35pm on Prime Time on RTÉ One.

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