A former French lairage worker has confessed to the horrific abuse of Irish calves revealed by animal welfare activists last week.

Cherbourg prosecutor Yves Le Clair told the Irish Farmers Journal that a man detained following the publication of a video filmed inside the Tollevast lairage near Cherbourg had confirmed he was the person seen kicking and stamping on calves in the footage.

The lairage is operated by Qualivia, one of the two companies providing resting space for calves exported from Ireland to mainland Europe after they disembark ferries at Cherbourg.

The investigation has shown that the man had resigned from his job there several weeks before the footage was published.

Le Clair, who is investigating the incident as an isolated case of animal cruelty, said that state veterinary inspectors had identified the premises on the video.

“The person in charge of the business helped us identify the individual.” The prosecutor reported full co-operation from Qualivia and investigators are not questioning the overall treatment of calves at the lairage.

The man was released, pending further interviews with witnesses including the lairage’s management and other staff members seen in the video.

Le Clair said he would decide how to prosecute the case within weeks.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture has condemned any ill treatment of livestock and urged anyone with knowledge or evidence of breaches to report it to the authorities. “Ireland applies strict controls in relation to welfare of animals including during transport and has procedures and checks in place to ensure compliance with EU and national legislation,” the spokesperson said, including fitness for transport and truck inspections. “Where non-compliance is identified, appropriate remedial action is taken.”

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