The PSNI has confirmed officers assisted officials from the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in the course an investigation around animal welfare concerns in County Fermanagh, although details of scarce.

The disclosure came following enquiries into reports received from several sources in the area last week, stating a farmer allegedly was instructed to shoot around 60 cattle due to starvation, which he contended was on the instructions from DEARA officials.

The Department was asked to clarify if the reports are correct and if so, how many cattle did this relate to.

It was also asked if it is common practice for DAERA to direct cattle to be shot in such circumstances and if relevant charges in respect of animal welfare are pending.

Neither confirming nor denying, a spokesperson simply responded: “Veterinary Officers are currently investigating concerns regarding animal welfare in County Fermanagh.”

When it was pointed out this was vague and did not appropriately answer the questions posed, the DAERA spokesperson said: “‘We cannot comment any further on an ongoing investigation.”

Despite providing the specific details of the alleged incident and its location to DAERA, their response remained unchanged.

Consequently, it is unclear when the investigation was triggered and by what, and if it is accepted practice for DAERA officials to instruct livestock to be shot by their owners who may be suspected of welfare issues.

In response to an enquiry in whether PSNI were involved, a spokesperson said: “Police provided assistance to DAERA officers on Tuesday February 9, in the Fermanagh area.”