By Aodhan O’Faolain

A High Court challenge has been launched against a government decision to ban all transport of livestock to North African countries during July and August. 

The action has been brought by Cork-registered Curzon Livestock Ltd., whose business involves the export of livestock to countries including Libya.

It claims its business will suffer as a result of the ban.

Ban on livestock exports

Curzon Livestock Ltd. claims that last March the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, sent out an email, known as a hot weather notification stating that all live animal exports to North African nations in July and August 2021 had been banned. 

The ban was confirmed in other communications made by the minister earlier this month, the court also heard.

The company, represented by senior counsel David Holland, said it is supportive of efforts to ensure the safety and welfare of cattle it brings to North Africa from Ireland.

It says it has never had any complaint from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) about the manner in which it transports animals to other countries.

It claims that there is no basis for the ban, which the minister has refused to reverse.

DAFM reasons for ban

The department informed the company that the ban is based on several factors.

These include EU directives and regulations on animal protection during transport; public scrutiny of the issue; temperature increases in North Africa; and an EC instruction that the transport of animals in temperatures over 30°C causes suffering to them.

However, the company says that there is no legal basis for a blanket and indiscriminate ban such as the one imposed.

The ban also fails to take into account the safeguards that company takes when it transports animals to North Africa, the court heard.

These include the fact that its ship is equipped with a ventilation system to ensure the animals on board are transported in temperatures below 30°C, even in July and August.

Company wants decision quashed

In judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the Attorney General, the company seeks various orders and declarations.

It seeks an order quashing the decision, and various declarations including that the decisions are irrational, unreasonable, unlawful and outside the powers of the minister.

It further seeks declarations that the minister failed to invoke any jurisdiction known in law for making the decision, and that in making the decision the minister failed to take relevant considerations into account.

Justice Brian O’Moore directed that the matter was adjourned for two weeks.