Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has pledged to seek an independent review into the occurrences witnessed on Dan Brennan’s farm in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.

The commitment came after an Oireachtas agriculture committee cited concerns that anomalies in farm performance, ranging from chronic ill-thrift to bones forming in the soft tissues of cattle, could have been caused by industrial emissions from a local brick factory.

The review, which is to be sought by Minister McConalogue, is to assess the Department of Agriculture’s work in investigating the case and the reports which fed into a 2010 verdict that claimed the brick factory was not the cause of the farm’s strange health issues.

This investigation had been conducted by agencies including the Department of Agriculture, Teagasc, UCD veterinary researchers and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The minister told TDs on Thursday that it is “appropriate that I would have a separate review of my own Department’s investigation and any work that fed into that to look at this further and feedback.

“What has been done here, 20 years is a long time and there is a lot of water under the bridge in relation to it, but I do respect the work of the committee and the priority and time you have collectively given to this issue and the assessment you made,” he said.


Chair of the Oireachtas agriculture committee Jackie Cahill TD claimed in the Dáil that the handling of the case when it had been “taken to Brussels” gave him a “strong suspicion of political interference”.

“To say that bones growing in soft tissues was unusual would very much be an understatement. It is extraordinary that animals would have bones growing out of their kidneys, so there had to be an extraordinary reason for that to happen.

“Let us get answers to the questions. I have another nine or 10 questions on the list in front of me. These are questions that need to be asked on behalf of Dan Brennan and answers need to be given to him,” Cahill said.

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy said he had never been as struck by evidence that was put before the committee and that he was pleased that the committee decided to bring forward this report.

“Since we brought forward the report, the initial response of the Department was to dismiss it entirely. With no disrespect to any of the Department officials, it is clear from the evidence we heard that the Department has not been up to the standard we expect in getting answers,” he said.

Minister of state at the Department of Housing and Kilkenny TD Malcolm Noonan said he visited Dan Brennan’s farm with former deputies Mary White and John Gormley during the depths of the crisis and saw firsthand what was going on.

“It was seriously untoward and wrong. I know Dan to be a good farmer and I know this is as much about pride and vindication of his practices as a farmer,” Minister Noonan said.