Livestock seized in fight against organised crime and travelling gangs
A rise in the level of organised crime has seen a tenfold increase in the Criminal Assets Bureau’s seizure values, among which livestock were included.

The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) have reported a tenfold increase in the value of seizures following a rise in criminal activity by travelling gangs and organised crime.

The CAB was established with powers to focus on the illegally acquired assets of criminals involved in serious crime. According to their latest report, assets with a value of €7m were seized in 2017 in comparison to just over €0.6m in 2016.

A seizure of livestock to the value of €29,636 was also made by the Bureau during the year.

In total, 100 seizures were made with the rise being attributed to the fact that more than double the number of cases have been taken this year in comparison to last year.

Vehicle seizures

Vehicles accounted for 44 of those seizures. During 2017 a number of mid-range to upper-range valued vehicles were targeted in response to actions being taken by those involved in crime to purchase lower valued vehicles in an attempt to avoid detection.

An example of the types of vehicles seized by the Bureau were:

  • Yahama 250X motorcycle
  • Lexus.
  • Audi A1, A3 and A5.
  • Mercedes CLK220, E20, CLA220AMG.
  • BMW 740, M6, X5.
  • Volkswagen Golf.
  • In terms of value, 35 financial asset seizures made up €3.5m of the seizures while eight properties that were seized came to a value of €2.5m.

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    The finance bill published on Thursday by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe extends the capital gains tax (CGT) relief available to parents who give a site to their child so that they can include the child's spouse or partner in the transaction.

    Existing legislation lets parents give land to their child without paying CGT up to a maximum of one acre and a valuation of €500,000, on the condition that the child builds their principal private residence on the site.

    Under current rules, only the child can benefit from the tax-free transfer. If their spouse or partner becomes co-owner of the property, they lose the tax exemption.

    From 1 January 2019, the finance bill provides that "‘child’ shall be deemed to include the spouse or civil partner of the child concerned" in such cases. The change will help the many farming families who transfer a piece of land from the parents' farm to a child who builds a home to move into as a couple.

    The Oireachtas must now pass the finance bill before the measure becomes law.

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    Regulator to review controversial Shannon water pipeline project
    The Government has asked the utilities watchdog to conduct a review of Irish Water's proposed pipe to carry water to Dublin through farmers' land.

    Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy has asked the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) to carry out a review of Irish Water's Eastern and Midlands Water Supply Project before decides whether to give his green light to construction.

    The review and the Minister's decision relate to Government spending on the investment, and are separate from the planning permission process. The CRU is the State's independent regulator for the energy and water sectors.

    The 170km pipeline proposed by Irish Water would bring water from the river Shannon's Parteen basin to the capital.

    Map of the Eastern and Midlands Water Supply Project.

    IFA environment chair Thomas Cooney said it was important for the review to assess the need for the pipe against other options.

    "This is a huge imposition on the 500 landowners along the way," Cooney told the Irish Farmers Journal, taking a up a 50m-wide corridor during construction and leaving permanent infrastructure such as sluice valves in the long term.

    "It's like an underground motorway and we'd want to make sure it's absolutely needed," Cooney added, hoping for an opportunity for farmers to make submissions.

    We are confident that Irish Water's plans will not stand up to proper scrutiny

    Liam Minehan, who farms on the route of the proposed pipeline in Co Tipperary and participates in the opposition group Fight the Pipe, said the group had been looking for a review for a long time and hoped it would be fully independent.

    "We are confident that Irish Water's plans will not stand up to proper scrutiny," Minehan said.

    A statement from the Department of Housing said the review was needed "given the scale and importance of the Eastern and Midlands Water Supply Project and recognising the CRU’s statutory role as independent economic regulator of Irish Water".

    Irish Water has described the project as "the option which delivers the widest benefit to the greatest number of people, with the least environmental impact and in the most cost-effective manner".

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    'Sheep stealer the worst thing to call a farmer in rural Ireland'
    A court in Donegal this week heard that to be called a sheep stealer is the worst thing a farmer can be called in rural Ireland, writes Stephen Maguire.

    A solicitor has told a court that to be called a "sheep stealer" is the worst thing a farmer can be called in rural Ireland.

    Solicitor Patsy Gallagher was speaking at Falcarragh District in Co Donegal after his client had been charged with handling 35 stolen lambs.

    John McBride (47) of 11 Firmount, Milford, Co Donegal, pleaded guilty to a total of 35 sample charges.

    Stigma

    Solicitor Patsy Gallagher told the court there was a “stigma” attached to the offence, saying "to be called a sheep stealer in rural Donegal is the worst”.

    Garda Enda Jennings said that in April 2017, he had been approached by a local farmer, Michael Cullen, who informed him that 76 of his lambs had been stolen.

    He had carried out an investigation and lambs had been traced to a location at Carrownagannonagh in Milford and after getting a warrant they seized 37 lambs.

    McBride claimed the sheep and lambs were his and told gardaí that he had bought the lambs from a man who he had failed to identify.

    He said he bought the lambs for €20 each although the court was told that lambs cost €50 each and the accused should have known the real value.

    No suspicion

    Defending solicitor Patsy Gallagher said his client, who was on social welfare, had paid the money for the lambs but there had been no suspicion that he had been involved in the theft of them. He had bought them with the intention of selling them on.

    Pointing out that McBride was “deeply remorseful” for his actions, Gallagher repeated that he had had “no hand or part” in the theft of the livestock.

    Referring to the “stigma” to such incidents within the farming community, the solicitor claimed: “To be called a sheep stealer in rural Donegal is the worst”.

    Judge Paul Kelly said there might have been more sympathy for the defendant if he had assisted the gardaí with their investigation initially.

    Consequences

    “He is dealing with the consequences of failing to co-operate.”

    Taking to the witness stand, Mr Cullen told the court he had 76 lambs stolen in total.

    He went on to claim that Mr McBride had been working at the mart in Milford and was not unemployed.

    On the 35 sample charges before the court, Judge Kelly sentenced the defendant to three months imprisonment suspended for two years on his own bond of €250.

    He also ordered the defendant to meet the costs incurred by the gardaí in transporting the lambs, totalling €3,300, and also the costs of €6,423 to the Department of Agriculture in the case.