More than one million animals were slaughtered in Ireland last year without first being stunned, in order to allow their meat to be sold as halal or kosher to Muslim and Jewish markets.

According to figures sourced by the representative body Veterinary Ireland, which opposes the practice on animal welfare grounds, 981,653 sheep — about one-third of all those slaughtered — and 142,873 cows (8.2% of the total) were killed without first being stunned, in line with Muslim and Jewish religious law.

Last November Veterinary Ireland wrote to Michael Creed, then the agriculture minister, asking him to engage with Muslim and Jewish leaders “to identify methods of stunning that are acceptable to these religious authorities and that will spare these animals all avoidable pain, distress

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