ICSA President Patrick Kent will travel to Turkey over the coming days to visit the farms there on which Irish cattle are being finished.

Speaking on Saturday’s RTE’s Countrywide programme, he said that he is keen to inspect the condition of the cattle on their arrival in Turkey and the facilities on the finishing units they are destined for. He will also visit a number of slaughter facilities in the country.

He was responding to claims made by EU Director of Animals International Gabriel Paun, on the programme, to the effect that Irish cattle are being slaughtered in Turkish facilities in “horrific” conditions.

Paun claimed: “I have video footage to confirm that Irish cattle are arriving in Turkey in very poor condition.  I filmed animals covered in their own excrement.”

Responding, Kent said that it is possible for organisations like Animals International to identify animal welfare breaches in every country around the world, if they are prepared to look hard enough and long enough for them.

“This is part of an ongoing campaign to promote a vegan lifestyle,” he said. “The boats used to transport cattle from Ireland to countries such as Turkey are specifically licensed by the Department of Agriculture.

They must meet the highest animal welfare standards.

Kent went on to say that live shipping must be retained as an important element of the overall means by which cattle are sold in Ireland.

“In fact, we need higher to secure higher levels of live exports,” he added.

The ICSA President admitted that more Irish beef could be exported in chilled form.

“The problem is that once we exceed a weekly kill rate of 30,000 head, finished cattle prices start to fall dramatically.

One way around this problem would be to encourage the opening of additional slaughterhouses and processing operations.

Kent undertook to raise the issue of alleged welfare breaches in Turkish slaughterhouses with Turkey’s authorities during his upcoming visit to the country.