Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has committed to reviewing and reading further the case files compiled during investigations into the infamous Brennan farm case, which began in June 2004.

Dan Brennan’s dairy farm near Castelcomer, Co Kilkenny, saw severe curtailments to animal performance when a neighbouring brick factory was in operation, with improvements to performance reported since the factory closed in December 2008.

It was stated in the Dáil that animals from the herd reported issues, including bone being soft enough to cut through with a knife and bone growing in arteries and lungs.

Feeding trials conducted by Teagasc on the farm saw healthy bullocks losing weight after moving on to the farm, which the farmer’s vet maintains was well managed.


Despite the commitment to review the case, Minister McConalogue told TDs in Dáil Éireann that no evidence has emerged suggesting that the farm’s issues were linked to pollution.

“I will review and read the files further as well. I have laid out the background to it,” the Minister said on Tuesday.

“There have been significant investigations and reports done already and the last one goes back over 13 years ago.

“There has not been any new evidence presented subsequent to what would have been available at the time of the investigations.

“One of those investigations concluded that there was no evidence of fluoride or cadmium toxication levels in the herd nor any evidence of environmental pollution on the farm.”

Allegations of under-reporting

The Dáil heard allegations that information on pollutant levels provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during investigations into the farm was under-reported by a factor of 1,000.

Jackie Cahill TD claimed that the UCD veterinary team tasked with investigating poor animal performance and ill thrift on the farm were told by the EPA that the factory’s cadmium emissions were 0.001kg/hour, while the EPA’s own reports showed the levels to be 1kg/hour.

Deputy Cahill asked the Minister why evidence collected in animal feeding trails carried out by Teagasc on the farm were “ignored” in the investigations, as was evidence of trees dying off.

“Again, why was all this evidence not clearly examined? When UCD asked the EPA about the amount of cadmium being emitted from the factory, all the EPA records showed 1kg/hour,” stated Deputy Cahill.

“However, the EPA wrote back to UCD and documented that it was only 1g/hour, which is 1,000 times less. Why?”

TDs united

Cross-party support for Brennan was voiced as TDs took to the floor.

Minister McConalogue’s Fianna Fáil colleague John McGuinness TD claimed “the Minister does not believe [the statement] he read out”.

Further criticism was heaped on the Minister by Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy TD.

“In every major scandal that has ever affected this state in which it took decades in order to get justice, at some point down the line a minister read basically the same statement that the Minister has read and had handed to him,” Deputy Carthy said.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice added that Dan Brennan “deserves justice” before appealing “for that man, his mental health, his family” to open an independent review into the case.

Further debate

The debate concluded with Minister McConalogue stating that he can consider the matter further.

“I am happy to discuss it further, but I am laying out clearly the background to it, the comprehensive assessment that has gone on in it already and the clear view that there has been no new evidence presented that changes the situation,” the Minister said.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl agreed to allow TDs the opportunity to raise the issue again in the Dáil after the Minister reviews the case.

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