Draft Animal Remedies Regulations 2005: Motion (Resumed).

Wednesday, 19 October 2005

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 608 No. 68

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Naughten on Tuesday, 18 October 2005:

[143]That Dáil Éireann,

notes the recent publication by the Minister for Agriculture and Food on the Draft Animal Remedies Regulations 2005 and recognises that:

—Ireland must legislate for EU Directive 2004/28 by 31 October 2005;

—the Government’s proposals will impose unimplementable and unworkable restrictions on farmers;

—the current proposals are over-bureaucratic and will seriously restrict the availability of animal medicines;

—the regulations will add an additional €80 million to the cost of veterinary medicines in this country;

—the Competition Authority has expressed serious reservations regarding the implementation of the EU directive in its current manner;

—it will seriously discriminate against the competitiveness of Irish food production and farming;

—the proposals will facilitate the creation of a monopoly in the sale of animal medicines;

—it will hinder good farming practice and have a negative impact on animal welfare;

—it is becoming progressively difficult to maintain veterinary practices in certain parts of the country;

—Northern Ireland has taken a more farmer-friendly interpretation of the EU directive which may promote a cross-Border black market for such products;

— the regulation will inhibit the development of an all-Ireland animal health regime;

and calls on the Government and the Minister for Agriculture and Food to:

—allow qualified professionals, other than but including vets, to issue prescriptions;

—implement a regulation similar to that of the UK authorities, which will eradicate the potential for cross-Border trade in animal remedies;

—retain the wide availability of animal medicines while ensuring that Ireland continues to produce food to the highest standards;

[144]—publish the proposed exemption list which has been submitted to the European Commission;

—review the draft regulation to introduce a simplified system of compliance; and

—allow Irish farming publications to advertise and provide detailed information regarding the efficacy of animal remedies in line with similar UK publications circulating in Ireland.

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:

“—notes that the draft regulations relating to veterinary medicines circulated by the Department of Agriculture and Food for consultation with the animal remedies consultative committee and stakeholders are designed both to implement changes arising from a review of existing national legislation and to transpose EU Directive 2004/28 into national law;

—agrees that the objective of the new regime should be to put in place a workable system for the distribution of medicines within the parameters of the EU directive while at the same time protecting public and animal health, minimising costs for producers and facilitating export trade;

—accepts that the existing national prescribing arrangements should remain in place pending the adoption at EU level of criteria for exemption of certain medicines from the requirement that all medicines for food producing animals become prescription only;

—notes the provisions to simplify procedures for writing prescriptions and provide for greater competition in the market for veterinary medicines;

—notes the undertakings by the Minister for Agriculture and Food to review the arrangements for prescribing veterinary medicines in the light of the outcome of the EU decision on the exemption criteria with a view to ensuring competition in the marketplace while also protecting public and animal health; and

—accordingly approves the overall approach being taken by the Minister for Agriculture and Food in relation to veterinary medicines.”

[145]Mr. J. Brady: Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  How much time is allocated to each speaker?

Acting Chairman: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I understand it is 30 minutes.

Mr. J. Brady: Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  I wish to share time with Deputies Callanan, Grealish and Michael Moynihan. Beef production is extremely valuable to the economy. It has an export value of €1.4 billion, representing approximately 25% of total agri-food exports. Irish beef is a highly competitive product with more than 90% of production exported to the EU and other countries.

Under the CAP decoupling arrangements for direct payments, for the first time in many decades farmers can focus more clearly on the market-related elements of their income, confident that the single payment will provide an ensured income stream. We will enter this new era from a good base. Our well-developed cattle identification and traceability system, coupled with our highly advanced animal health and welfare veterinary controls ensure we have a safe product from a critical human health perspective.

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I am also confident that after decades of research and genetic improvements we have breeding stock, technologies and policies from which we can produce the best quality beef. We can do so using modern and efficient farm management practices. This new environment will create a significant incentive for quality production with the producer processor relationship as the key. This will require greater emphasis on cattle prices for farmers being related to quality and integrated supply and purchasing systems, thus satisfying high quality premium market opportunities.

The future well-being of the beef industry will be directly dependent on the returns farmers can generate from the market. In recent years most of our beef exports have gone to the high value UK and EU markets and that trend continued this year. EU consumption is predicted to outstrip production in 2005, with a resulting import gap of approximately 280,000 tonnes for the year. This will provide opportunities for our beef exports in high value continental EU markets. In the past three or four years, the focus of the Irish beef industry has been to broaden and expand its market research at EU retail level, where higher prices are available. This has coincided with reduced dependence on EU support measures such as intervention and export refunds.

This year’s Bord Bia European autumn promotion of identified Irish beef, carried out in conjunction with EU retailers and Irish suppliers, is well under way and is an excellent and sophisticated campaign. Initial feedback is encouraging in terms of improved demand in response to the promotion. It is hoped we can further strengthen the position of Irish beef in the European marketplace as a result.

[146]Despite our success in Europe, non-EU markets will always form part of our outlets for Irish beef, taking certain cuts at particular times of the year, especially during our peak throughput in the autumn. With the assistance of our embassies abroad and Bord Bia, the Government will continue to press hard for the reopening of all of our traditional third country markets. The Russian market has performed well since agreement was reached on the EU veterinary certificate for exports last year. The re-opening of the Algerian market was also announced last October and a steady trade has developed.

Positive developments have also occurred in the Egyptian market, following intensive efforts over a prolonged period. Department of Agriculture and Food and Bord Bia officials visited Egypt earlier this year and succeeded in reaching agreement with the Egyptian Government in August on a new and much improved veterinary protocol for the export of Irish beef to that destination. Trade will be further underpinned by the retention of a special export refund for Egypt which has been negotiated with the EU Commission. Production has already commenced for one contract and it is expected that trade will gradually increase during the coming months.

Last week I was honoured to accompany the Minister for Agriculture and Food to meet the Egyptian Foreign Minister. I am confident the negotiations and discussions that took place signify an encouraging outlook for the Egyptian market. I am confident that Ireland’s high animal health status and food safety standards will pave the way for increasing access for Irish beef to world markets.

Mr. Callanan: Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  I compliment the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Deputy Coughlan, and the Minister for State at the Department of Agriculture and Food, Deputy Browne, for their stand on the veterinary medicine regulations. It is important that farmers can get medicines for their livestock without too many restrictions and at a competitive rate.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  The Deputy must be sure to state that to The Connacht Tribune.

Mr. Callanan: Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  It is fair to state that Irish farmers fully understand the dangers of over-prescribing medicines to their stock. Strict tests are now in place to ensure no residues are present in beef, milk or other products. The Department of Agriculture and Food is aware of the view expressed on the possible impact of the draft regulations on competition of supply of veterinary medicines, particularly regarding the requirements of the EU directive that all veterinary medicines for food producing animals must be subject to prescription.

[147]However, the directive also includes a provision for exemption criteria to be adopted at EU level, which will provide a mechanism for certain categories of medicine to be exempted from prescription requirement. The EU has not adopted a position on the exemption criteria but must do so by 1 January 2007. Pending this decision, existing national prescription and distribution arrangements may remain in place. It is Deputy Coughlan’s intention to avail of the exemption clause to the maximum extent possible. Her Department has made a submission to the Commission with a view to retaining all products that currently enjoy a status of being available without prescription, other than intramammaries.

The draft regulation published by the Department of Agriculture and Food provides that veterinary medicines, wormers and certain vaccines will continue to be available without prescription for the time being. In practice, this means that apart from intramammaries, the Department is retaining the essence of its existing national prescription and distribution regime. In view of this, it is not necessary for competition reasons to extend the range of persons who may be permitted to prescribe. The Minister will review the regulations, in particular the provisions relating to the categories of persons who would be permitted to prescribe medicines, in light of the exemption criteria that will be agreed at EU level in due course.

It is evident the Minister believes her Department is doing everything possible, in so far as it has flexibility to do so, to create an environment to ensure there continues to be competition in the supply of veterinary medicines. Regarding the availability of veterinary practitioners to issue prescriptions, the draft regulations published by the Department of Agriculture and Food will substantially retain the existing regime on off-prescription products until 1 January 2007. This means that with the exemption of intramammary medicines, products available from pharmacies and licensed merchants will continue to be available from these outlets until that date.

It should be pointed out that veterinary practices are primarily commercial entities and their location is driven by commercial realities. In so far as Government involvement is concerned, attention should be drawn to the measures of the new Veterinary Practice Act which would help to address any shortage of Irish trained vets. For the first time, the Veterinary Council of Ireland will recognise qualifications from applicants in third countries. This, in tandem with the recent enlargement of the EU, should ensure the availability of practitioners from outside the State to meet any shortfalls.

I welcome the decision of the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Deputy Coughlan, to ban imports of Brazilian beef into Ireland from the regions where foot and mouth disease has occurred. Her decision follows the confirmation [148]of an outbreak of the disease in certain regions of Brazil. The ban is justified totally on grounds of human and animal health. While Irish farmers are rightly forced to accept rigorous standards in the interests of food safety and consumer protection, it is only just that imported products should meet the same criteria. Last year almost 8,000 tonnes of beef was imported into Ireland from Brazil, most of which was used in the catering industry, with no labelling required. I welcome the Minister’s commitment to introduce new beef labelling legislation for the hotel and catering sector. However, I urge her to do so before the ban on Brazilian imports is lifted. This is in the best interests of Irish farmers and consumers alike.

I also welcome the reopening of the Egyptian trade for beef exports from Ireland. Over the past two weeks, export licences for Egypt amounting to 1,100 tonnes of beef have been taken out by the Department of Agriculture and Food. This once again underlines the international reputation of Irish beef as a quality product.

Finally, I wish the Minister well in her negotiations leading up to the World Trade Organisation talks.

Mr. Grealish: Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak on this important issue. As a rural Deputy, I have met many farmers and representatives of veterinary medicine companies over the last few weeks. This is an important issue in rural Ireland and I am delighted that this motion has come before the House.

I have just a few moments and recognise that many of the important points have already been made, so I will focus on just three. Last night the Minister mentioned the serious misunderstanding of the draft regulations on the part of the Opposition. I listened with a certain amount of disbelief to the contributions from that side of the House which stated that this Government has a blatant disregard for Ireland’s food industry and is more interested in attracting transient foreign investment than supporting indigenous employers. That is just plain wrong.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Has the Deputy read the enterprise strategy group’s implementation plan?

Mr. Grealish: Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  To use this as a starting point for a debate on a serious issue of veterinary medicine practice——

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  He should read it.

Mr. Grealish: Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  ——is unfortunate. It does the parties opposite and their argument no service whatsoever. The unprecedented development of the economy is knowledge based and innovation driven and relies on both indigenous and foreign enterprise. Government policies correctly reflect this.

My second point relates to the substance of the motion, namely, unimplementable and unwork[149]able restrictions on farmers, bureaucracy, monopoly, and black markets. All of this is based on the assumptions that the directive contains no provision for exemption criteria being adopted at EU level for certain categories of medicines to be exempted from prescription requirements and that the Minister does not intend to avail of the exemption clause to the maximum extent possible with a view to retaining off prescription in Ireland all products other than intramammaries. Unfortunately for the Opposition, neither of those assumptions is true.

I compliment the Minister for the clarity of her contribution last night. The Opposition often claims that ministerial statements and answers stray from the point. The Minister could not have been clearer. Ireland intends to avail of the extension clause to the maximum extent possible. The Department of Agriculture and Food has already made a submission to the European Commission with a view to retaining off prescription in Ireland all products currently in that category.

Under the draft regulations published by the Minister, veterinary medicines such as wormers and certain vaccines will continue to be available off prescription for the time being and in practice, apart from intramammaries, we will be retaining the essence of the existing prescription and distribution system. I am confident that once the exemption is availed of, Opposition claims of unimplementable and unworkable restrictions on farmers, bureaucracy, monopoly and black markets will not materialise.

My final point is wider in scope. It involves Ireland’s relationship with the European Union. We are in a period of reflection concerning the European project brought about by the referendum results in France and the Netherlands. The decision of the French and the Dutch to reject the constitutional treaty was a setback but it has provided us with an opportunity. Some benefits may occur from the refocusing of minds on what we, as a people, actually want from the Union. Issues such as that before the House this evening are typical of motions that generate cynicism concerning the EU, the view that Brussels interferes or imposes regulations against our best interest. I urge the Minister and her Department to continue to work in the interests of the country, farmers and indigenous producers and distributors. The Minister’s goal is to implement the EU directive while protecting public and animal health, facilitating our food export trade and minimising costs for producers.

I support the amendment to the motion for these reasons, confident that by availing of the exemption clause to the maximum extent possible, we will retain off prescription in Ireland all products which currently enjoy this status. The Minister and the Government deserve support on this exemption, not wild statements from the Opposition.

[150]Mr. M. Moynihan: Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  I welcome the opportunity to speak on the motion before the House this evening. At the outset, I compliment the Minister, Deputy Coughlan, and Ministers of State, Deputies Browne and Smith, for the excellent work they are doing in the Department and indeed, the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Agriculture and Food, Deputy Johnny Brady, for the work he is doing in steering agriculture.

In the few minutes available, I would like to discuss, under the auspices of the motion, the future of the dairy industry at a time of extreme challenges internally and externally. We are all aware of the growing pressures to complete the new WTO trade negotiations in December. The EU is being faced with unacceptable demands from other international partners in the world trade talks, where Europe is expected to make concessions that others appear reluctant to match.

The Commission is a negotiating body for the purpose of the world trade talks. Its handling of the negotiations so far has not been as self-assured as I would like. Too many concessions have been made which have not been matched by other groups and there is a danger that a deal may not be secured. The risks in such an approach have been pointed out to the Commission and again today in Luxembourg the Minister and her Council colleagues have once more put pressure on the EU.

Our concerns are reasonable. We face challenges in the dairy sector from both the internal market and external world markets. An agreement at WTO level, however, that fails to recognise the importance of agriculture to the EU will neither command the support of the Union nor enhance the capacity or our dairy industry to develop internationally.

Developing internationally is crucial for the Irish dairy sector because of the enormous export surpluses we produce in dairy products. We have proven our capacity to stand with the best in doing so and coped with enormous changes. When the Luxembourg agreement on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy was settled, we understood clearly that it would form the basis of agricultural policy for the foreseeable future. No further elements of reform would be conceived as part of the world trade negotiations. That remains the Minister’s position. Having come through periods of adjustments in internal market supports and export refunds, necessitated by the Luxembourg agreement, the Minister is not prepared to allow Ireland’s competitiveness to become further eroded by unilateral trade concessions that expose us to unfair and unjust competition while limiting export opportunities.

We face challenges on the dairy side in the WTO negotiations. We have already faced similar challenges during the past year when the Minister continued to criticise the Commission’s handling [151]of the sensitive dairy market management and won support from a number of other concerned member states with which she had bilateral agreements. Decisions taken at EU level were causing severe pressure on the ability of the dairy sector to compete on international markets. The Minister told the Commission that the reductions made on subsidies represent a far too aggressive market management approach and that what the industry needed most was a period of stability. Since then there has been a sustained period of stability that has enabled the industry to continue sales contracts and set raw material prices within a stable, economic and commercial environment. While aids and subsidies at European Union level are essential to competitiveness on world markets, internal competitiveness is the key for Ireland and the area we directly influence. Internal structural difficulties in our domestic dairy sector must be addressed to remove the factors which inhibit growth and development. These matters need to be addressed in a more direct manner at both primary and secondary level in terms of matching product mix with emerging market and consumer demands. At farm level we must consider increasing the scale of operations, reducing costs where possible and providing a profitable future in the sector for the next generation of dairy farmers.

Although the quota regime has been extended until 2014-15, it is imperative, now more than ever, to assist those who wish to expand their operations within the new environment. The Minister has taken a series of initiatives in this area. In announcing the new milk quota restructuring scheme this year, she deliberately set about framing a two-year restructuring programme providing a fixed price for the purchase and sale of quota. The price will be progressively reduced each year, thus allowing dairy farmers to plan ahead with greater certainty and enable the restructuring programme to operate more efficiently, having regard to the need for more competitive milk production.

The Minister also changed the regulations to enable the transfer of quota within families without the need to transfer the associated lands. This facility will consolidate dairy enterprises within families and protect the single payment entitlement of family members exiting the dairy sector. It must be welcomed given that the main difficulty in trying to ensure young people enter and remain in the dairy sector is the requirement that a farm is capable of supporting two families. This measure and the rules governing the new entrant-parent milk production partnerships have also been modified to allow large producers to establish such arrangements. This will encourage more young, trained farmers to commit themselves to dairy farming and 350 partnerships are already in place.

[152]In changing the flexi-milk schemes, the Minister set about providing for much more equal distribution of quota between over-quota suppliers in 2005 and 2006. The availability of quota in each co-operative will be allocated according to two categories, namely, those above and those below the 350,000 litre category. Some 90% will be allocated to the over-quota category 1 producers — those producing fewer than 350,000 litres — with the balance allocated to category 2 over-quota producers, although the latter will not be allowed to exceed the allocation to category 1. These changes were made to give further recognition to active and committed dairy farmers who manage their production efficiently, having regard to the available quota. Producers who have continually relied on the annual flexi-milk allocation to offset regular patterns of over-production will have to consider other methods, such as restructuring and temporary leasing, and show greater prudence in their production decisions.

Greater rationalisation is always necessary at processing level. I am not convinced, however, that complete rationalisation is necessary in the dairy sector. A report published in 1989 indicated that Ireland required just three milk processing units. In the years thereafter, co-operatives continued to operate because they were controlled and owned by farmers as shareholders. Figures show that smaller co-operatives which refused to take the rationalisation route paid the best prices to farmers this year. Carberry and Newmarket co-operatives, the two processors which paid the highest prices, have demonstrated that small units can be competitive and cost-efficient. We should not throw out the baby with the bathwater but instead examine all issues before opting for rationalisation.

I make these points to highlight the strength of the dairy industry and ensure its viability is maintained. It faces an uphill battle on some issues. Nevertheless, the Minister and her team in the Department are looking after the best interests of agriculture. I wish them well.

Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Táim an-bhuíoch as ucht an seans labhairt. I congratulate the Minister for Agriculture and Food, her Department and the Ministers of State on the vigilant approach they have taken in responding to the outbreak of avian influenza in Europe. I am pleased the Department has appropriate structures in place to deal with the veterinary dimension of the avian influenza threat and is in ongoing liaison with the Department of Health and Children.

The Department of Agriculture and Food has already put in place an early warning system, with the co-operation of the national parks and wildlife service, the National Association of Regional Game Councils and BirdWatch Ireland, through which unusual or increased patterns of wild bird mortality is reported. The Department has been [153]engaged in a risk-based approach to the implementation of appropriate measures to minimise the risk of the introduction of avian influenza to Ireland. While endeavouring to reduce the risk of the introduction of the disease, much of the Department’s efforts are focused on the early detection and speedy eradication of the disease.

A European Commission decision adopted in Brussels last Friday provides for the introduction of additional biosecurity measures and early detection systems. Each member state is required to implement the measures provided for on the basis of a risk assessment, taking full account of the criteria and risk factors set out in the annexes to the decision. Following the decision adopted on Friday last, officials of the Department of Agriculture and Food met the other stakeholders to review the provisions of the decision and the effective operation of the existing early warning system. A further key element in early detection is testing carried out under the annual avian influenza survey plan, as provided for by Commission Decision 2005/464/EC.

The testing of samples is undertaken by the central veterinary research laboratory in Abbotstown. A serological monitoring programme has been in place since 1995 as part of the poultry health programme which monitors commercial breeding poultry, that is, chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, just before they come into lay and when they move sites. In addition, blood samples from clinically sick poultry are screened, as are commercial layer flocks before export. Some 20,000 samples are screened for all sub-types annually. A more extensive survey, including other categories of poultry and wild birds, has been carried out as part of an EU survey since 2002. It is expected that, as part of this year’s survey, samples will again be taken from birds in wildlife sanctuaries of international interest as well as game clubs. During last year’s survey, 350 samples were analysed and it is anticipated that this figure will be exceeded this year.

Surveillance is central to early detection and the outcome of the surveillance of wild birds should provide further valuable information for an early warning system of strains that may be introduced to poultry from wild birds. In addition to the early warning arrangements, the Department of Agriculture and Food has also updated and re-issued advice and information on biosecurity measures to be taken by poultry flock owners and measures which could be taken to minimise the risk of introducing the disease. The Department has also published details of the clinical symptoms of avian influenza to watch out for and has issued advice to those travelling to and from affected areas.

The Department continually reassesses the level of risk in light of any emerging information, taking account of the most up-to-date veterinary and scientific advice available. It will continue to [154]operate a risk based approach and maintain a measured response to the risk. In the event of an outbreak of avian influenza, a range of measures will be put in place to ensure the early eradication of the disease, including the slaughtering of birds and declaration of a 3 km protection zone and a 10 km surveillance zone around the infected premises. Movements of poultry, poultry transport, carcasses, eggs and other articles likely to transmit the virus will be controlled by licence. The infected premises will be subject to cleaning and disinfecting under official supervision of the Department. On the basis of my discussions with officials from the Department, I am satisfied that all appropriate measures have been taken by the Minister to reduce risk. I am also convinced that she will introduce additional measures, as appropriate, to reduce any risk.

With regard to the provisions on intramammaries in the veterinary medicines legislation, I am aware from discussions with the Minister that she is fully cognisant of the devastation farmers would suffer if proposals issued by the European Union are adopted. I am quite confident the Minister is well aware of the needs of the producer. Through our committee work we met the pharmacists, the veterinary organisations and the farmers. I have not been shy in mentioning that the producer, that is the farmer, is the most important person in this debate.

Apart from Luxembourg, Ireland is the only member state of the EU 15 countries where intramammaries containing antibiotics are not subject to veterinary prescription. In the report issued in 1999 the IMB proposed that intramammaries be brought under veterinary prescription to take account of the generally accepted necessity to address concerns about the levels and growth of antibiotic resistance in the human population.

I am confident the Minister will address fully the needs of the farming community and that she will bring about a workable system within the EU directive that is before her. Certainly she is not short on knowledge from the backbenchers here, my colleagues, the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Agriculture and Food, Deputy Johnny Brady, the Minister of State, Deputy Browne and the Minister of State, Deputy Brendan Smith, who have also been in discussions with the Minister on this matter and on the parameters within the EU directive in which the flexibility can be given so that farmers may continue to dose their animals——

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  What about Deputy Ned O’Keeffe and Deputy Parlon?

Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  ——and no unnecessary costs will be incurred in the implementation of this work. Paramount in this debate is the issue of minimising costs for producers to facilitate the export trade.

[155]Dr. Cowley: Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  I wish to share time with Deputies Connolly and James Breen.

We come across bizarre and ridiculous legislation and this is certainly in that category. In law, a pharmacist can dispense an anti-worm or an anthelmintic for a child without a prescription but under the law he will not be able to give the same drug for an animal. Animals are full of worms. Therefore farmers will look for these medicines constantly. They will have to find a veterinary practitioner to get a prescription and then pay the vet. In this regard, every farmer will be robbed. The best lambs are worth approximately €30 to €40 and a prescription from a veterinary practitioner, if one can be found, will cost the same amount. What are farmers likely to do in such cases? The animal concerned will not be treated and disease will abound.

One would need a helicopter to find a veterinary practitioner in County Mayo, the third largest county in Ireland. How will farmers get to the veterinary practitioner to get this prescription? It is utter madness. People will not treat their animals and fluke and worms will thrive if the farmers must go through this punishment to get a prescription. Fluke kills animals and can cause infestation in humans. There will be great spread of disease.

Veterinary practitioners will have the market to themselves, will charge what they like and will dispense the medicines. My local chemist has told me he has received only one or two prescriptions from veterinary practitioners in 17 years.

Already antibiotics are controlled. What is the point of all of this? This appears to be the Hanly plan for animals. The Government will dismantle the infrastructure. It will take out a tier of a system used by farmers to treat animals and drive people into the big centres of populations such as Castlebar, Ballina, Westport. How many farmers will be left after that? We know what the Hanly plan did for humans. This plan will wipe out farmers.

Another example is spot-on, a pour-on for lice in cattle and animals. Chemists cannot sell it for use on dogs or cats, but one can use it to pour on cattle and sheep. The rationale behind this is that it might enter the food chain but unless one lives in a dog-eating or cat-eating jurisdiction, this is ridiculous because it does not affect the food chain.

Mr. Connolly: Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  The draft animal remedies regulations will have a major restrictive effect on the availability of farm medicines and will adversely affect farmers’ competitiveness in the market. Irish farmers merely wish to be in a position to produce food to the highest standards, without necessarily being restricted or discriminated against. In its current form the proposed legislation can only be described as a retrograde step, failing to recognise the positive aspects of the cur[156]rent system. This is particularly so in the case of the mastitis control programmes. Under the terms of the directive there is nothing to prevent Ireland from continuing with this system.

Farmers and animal owners should be encouraged to adopt a preventive approach with medicines, to ensure the highest standards of animal health. Generally tighter controls should be instrumental in ensuring that Irish food will remain residue free by the observance of the withdrawal period for the medicines administered. This is a key link in the food chain. However, if veterinary practitioners are unavailable there is always the possibility that this new legislation may result in a decline in the use of medicines to prevent disease. This would be most detrimental to the best interests of farmers, food producers and consumers.

These regulations fail to recognise the ability, experience and professionalism of Irish farmers as keepers of livestock and are a cause of major concern to them. There also is the crazy situation where the flow of legitimate technical information to livestock farmers through advertisements in farming journals would be prevented. They are anti-competitive in the sense that the introduction of a veterinary prescription requirement for all animal medicines will reduce competition in their sale, to the obvious disadvantage of other suppliers. The viability of the network of supply outlets in co-operative stores and other outlets will be seriously undermined.

Prescription only medicines for animals are considerably more expensive than non-prescription medicines. There is the ludicrous case of head lice treatment, to which Deputy Cowley referred, which one may purchase over the counter for a child but not for an animal. This must be looked at. It is not sensible. There is a major cost implication in this for the farmer and it will be passed on to the consumer. In some instances it will not be worthwhile spending the money concerned on an animal such as a lamb or a small pig and the possibility is that the animal will be put down.

The prescription may not permit any choice of generic products which will undoubtedly add to the cost of available remedies.

Mr. J. Breen: Information on James Breen  Zoom on James Breen  The recent publication by the Minister for Agriculture and Food on the draft animal remedies regulations 2005 is both unfair to farmers and to consumers, and will to create a monopoly in the supply and sale of animal medicines.

The Government’s proposal will impose restrictions on farmers that will lead to increased costs and they will stifle what competition exists in the sale of animal medicines. By restricting the available outlets for such supplies the price will be controlled by a few vested interests and will be out of the competitive marketplace. Naturally, [157]this will lead to price increases and this will have a detrimental effect on Irish farmers.

It will also cause increases in prices to the consumer and will lead to further inflation. Not only will the direct price of such medicines increase, but so will the indirect costs to farmers. With fewer outlets available to the farmer it will mean further expense in travel to find the product.

Farmers already have enough costs and obstacles put in their way in trying to make a decent living for themselves and their families without having these restrictions proposed by the Minister. Life in rural Ireland is difficult enough for those of us who reside there. Farmers often cannot get planning permission to build houses for their children on their land and that combined with the lack of an adequate public transport system and the Government’s pro-Dublin bias all are contributing to a reduction in the quality of life in rural areas.

The proposed legislation will only further the aims of this Government to remove people from rural areas and have the land controlled by a few well-heeled individuals who can gain vast amounts of money through monopolies and cartels. One can look back on the tribunals into such practices in the past and we can look forward to a range of further such tribunals should the proposed Government regulations go ahead, or maybe they have improved in being able to hide their doubtful practices. Because the regulations in Northern Ireland are more farmer friendly there will be an increase in cross-Border smuggling and this will create a black market for such products. This will endanger the economy and the health of animals as in such a situation the use of products will be beyond the control of anyone. This will lead to further corruption in the agriculture sector and will be detrimental to all of us.

We must ensure that medium and small scale Irish farms remain viable businesses and that the people living in rural areas have a decent standard of living. We must ensure we remain competitive as agriculture is one of our biggest industries. If such practices were introduced in other business sectors, there would be uproar. However, the Government shows little regard for people in rural areas and seems to feel it can get away with yet another proposal to promote rural decline. It is time we put a stop to its gallop. It is time we made it aware of the views of people involved in rural businesses rather than leave it listening to its buddies in the business cartels of Dublin.

I have heard much from the Government about bird flu. God help this nation if bird flu hits us because we are currently making a damned bad job of trying to control the MRSA superbug that is rampant in our hospitals. I hope we never have the scourge of bird flu because if it is anything like the MRSA superbug, we will not be able to control it.

[158]Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  The Green Party supports wholeheartedly the Fine Gael motion which ties in closely with an adjournment matter I raised last week on the matter of dairy farmers in my constituency and the issues affecting them, not least the demise in their numbers from approximately 200 in the 1960s to the remaining 22 that are hanging on for dear life in the face of a fast rising cost base and ruthless pricing from the creameries that still take their milk.

This motion is more wide ranging and important in the sense that it relates to how the EU directive is being interpreted north and south of the Border. The Government should take into account that harmonisation of interpretation of this directive should be a key objective so there is not a continuance of what is almost traditional black marketeering due to differences on both sides of the Border. As the motion suggests, where there is a difference the Government must hold up a proper animal health regime for the whole island. This is vital if the island as a whole is to have a future in farming.

The Minister said she is prepared to review the arrangements before they come into effect on 1 January 2007. I hope she follows through on this and that this is a real engagement with the difficulties being highlighted by this debate. There is an underlying assumption behind this directive which states implicitly that farmers need vets and other experts to tell them how to do their job. This debate has shown once again that farmers need to be able to administer essential medicines in the same manner parents need to administer medicines to their child. The cost base for a farmer is so tight now that this is more than just about veterinary and farming practice. It is about survival. I know this from talking to farmers in my constituency who are at the pin of their collars trying to carry on from year to year.

I also know the situation from those outside my constituency, as do other Deputies. I received a letter from farmers in west Limerick the other day. They have serious issues with both the Environmental Protection Agency and local industry in their area. I hope these farmers are being listened to. Over the years they have reported the reasons they believe their animals have died and the mysterious situation in which they find their animals have been affected by environmental factors. They must now be believed. It has been proven that the EPA has not been doing its job properly in this regard.

The Irish Examiner reported last week that the EPA, along with Departments had been telling farmers they were not affected by a particular industry — Aughinish Alumina is mentioned most often — and that the farmers were liars. However, it has been discovered that the farmers were right all along. This may be too late for many of them who have suffered problems, not [159]just with their animals but for themselves and their families also.

I call on the Taoiseach to come clean on this issue following his visit to west Limerick last year. When he was questioned about the health concerns of local people with regard to themselves and their animals at the time, he defended local industry — he was referring to Aughinish Alumina — as the most regulated in the world. There is a need for a must closer investigation into what has been happening in west Limerick. This debate may finish at 8.30 p.m. tonight. However, the investigation into the animal health problems in west Limerick should be intensified because the abuse of farm families and their animals there is nothing short of criminal. I support the motion.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  I welcome this motion as it draws attention to a number of issues that currently affect the farming community. At a time of increasing costs, the legislation changing the manner in which farmers have access to animal medicines will only serve to add to the burden of farmers.

Most Deputies received considerable numbers of representations from both farmers and those involved in local co-operatives while the Veterinary Bill was being debated. Complaints regarding the new legislation continue. Changes with regard to the sale of animal medicines are both unnecessary and costly. There is no reason many of the products required by farmers for the day to day running of their farms must be accessed in the manner proposed. Of course we need to have controls over the type of products that are available, but the general consensus among farmers is that there are already adequate controls in place. It could also be argued that these regulations will create an underground economy with sinister people more than willing to fill the demand that will exist.

We must refer to a number of other issues affecting farming in the context of any debate on the sector. There are too few opportunities for this debate. The issue currently foremost in people’s minds is the proposal by EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson to undermine the single farm payment as part of the forthcoming negotiations at the World Trade Organisation. We have already seen the Irish sugar beet sector damaged as part of efforts to strike trade deals. I trust the Minister and the Government will strenuously oppose any further moves that will damage the viability of farming in this country and in the EU generally.

When the CAP reform package was agreed, the clear understanding was that there would be no changes to the new regime until at least 2013. The majority of farmers accepted decoupling on that basis and I welcomed it at the time as a possible means to establish basic income security for a set [160]period. I believed it could also be used to allow farmers here to alter their production with a guarantee of not having to produce in order to earn specific subsidies and premia.

If Mr. Mandelson is allowed to place the current regime on the table at the WTO talks in order to strike a bargain with the United States and other trading blocs, the entire CAP reform will be placed in jeopardy. It is vital, therefore, that the issue is discussed at EU level by the different agriculture Ministers. I am sure the Minister, Deputy Coughlan, will convey the feelings of farmers here on the proposal that it should not be allowed to proceed.

Another issue that threatens the reputation of this country as the origin of safe and healthy food is the ongoing effort to open up the EU to genetically modified products. The Government continues to acquiesce in the EU’s efforts by failing to oppose genetic modification at EU level. As a consequence, we have seen a series of authorisations of genetically modified products, including animal feed, which if introduced into this country’s food system will mean that Ireland will no longer be regarded as a producer of traditional or organically grown produce. When one considers that most consumers are hostile to genetically modified food, the Government’s position might have serious and damaging consequences for Irish farming and the marketing of Irish food.

I support the Fine Gael motion, the intention of which is to help farmers who have faced and are facing difficult times. I commend the motion to the House.

Mr. Neville: Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  I wish to share time with Deputies Timmins, Ring and Deenihan.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Neville: Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  I welcome the motion and congratulate my colleague, Deputy Naughten, for bringing it to the House. I ask the Minister for Agriculture and Food to support Irish farmers. There have been major changes in the farming sector. Costs have increased significantly and profits have decreased. Many farmers have been forced to vote with their feet by leaving the farming industry. The number of people in full-time farming has decreased substantially over the last two decades. If we do not halt the decline in farming and the drop in the involvement of farmers in rural communities, there will be a sea-change in the nature of rural society.

Farmers are being strangled by red tape and excessive regulation. When we visit the Continent, we cannot understand how many practices which would not be tolerated here continue to be carried out there. The nitrates directive will lead to enormous costs if it ever comes to fruition. We often hear of farmers who must sell sites to meet [161]the cost of new regulations. They will no longer be able to do that if the planning permission guidelines come into force.

Veterinary expenses have increased by 44% over the past ten years. We have noted the results of the imposition of restrictions on the sale of antibiotics to veterinarians and pharmacists. The antibiotic Penstrep, for example, could have been purchased for between €3 and €4 per 100 mg before restrictions were imposed on its sale. It now costs between €12 and €14 to purchase it from veterinarians and between €6 and €8 to buy it from pharmacies. It is clear that the imposition of restrictions on the sale of antibiotics has dramatically increased their cost. A P13 IBR vaccine bought in this country costs €8.50 per animal, compared with 91 cents in the United States as a result of restrictions on the distribution of medicines. The discrepancy in its cost results from the restrictions on the distribution of medicines to farmers.

If we adopt the approach suggested by the Minister for Agriculture and Food, what will be the implications for the overall market price of veterinary medicines? The current system will be able to remain in operation if we give member states the responsibility to designate who is qualified to prescribe various medicines. Why do we need to make the proposed change? The system is working well. Our food products have a very high status in international markets. Irish food products are seen as green, environmentally friendly and free from difficulties. Why should we change the current procedures if we do not have to? When the representatives of the Department of Agriculture and Food discussed this directive at EU level, they expressed their opposition to it. I do not understand the Department’s U-turn in this regard. Why is it insisting that the directive be recognised in this manner, which is not necessary?

I remind the House of the views of the Irish Pharmaceutical Union, as outlined at a joint committee meeting today. According to the union:

Fine Gael is concerned that many pharmacies will not prescribe medicines because demand for prescriptions will shift elsewhere. The Minister [162]should respond positively to Deputy Naughten’s motion. She needs to examine seriously her position on this matter.

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  When I see daffodils, I think of spring. When I see little red stockings hanging on trees, I think of Christmas time. When I see the Government making announcements about beef exports to Egypt, I think there must be a general election around the corner.

Mr. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  It is two years away.

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  The last time I saw such an announcement was when a ship carrying 69 tonnes of Irish beef sailed to Egypt in the weeks before the 2002 general election. That the journey in question was not followed by further shipments is second only to the fate of the Marie Celeste among the great nautical mysteries of our age. The public was fooled once but it will not be fooled again.

Mr. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  The election is two years away.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  The public was fooled twice.

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  I found it difficult to understand the Minister for Agriculture and Food’s speech on this motion. I think she was trying to say that although the Government has signed up to the directive, we should not be concerned because it does not intend to implement it. I know Fianna Fáil is fairly good at tricking the public by pulling the wool over its eyes, but the public does not believe it any more. The Minister of State, Deputy Browne, is a decent man. I regret that the Minister, Deputy Coughlan, is not present.

I welcome the honesty of the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, who said today that Fianna Fáil has been almost exclusively in Government for the last 18 years. His comments were a change from Fianna Fáil’s references to “successive Governments”, which has been its mantra since it started to plummet in the polls. The party that has been almost exclusively in Government for 18 years has presided over an unprecedented flight from the land during that period.

The Government made many pronouncements this time last year about the freedom to farm, the new dawn for farmers, the Government’s great commitment to farming, decoupling, modulation and the end to red tape. It now looks like all we are getting is modulation and even that is on a downward trend. The Government is trying to rewrite an agreement that was agreed a short time ago. The Government consistently said at that time that farmers need to be able to plan, to know what is happening and to be given some freedom. It claimed that the end of red tape would be followed by a great new dawn. Twelve months on, however, we are talking about the [163]Government’s plans to require farmers, who have been using such products for many years to get prescriptions for dry cow tubes. It is telling farmers that they will have to go to vets to get prescriptions for such tubes. I always thought the main Government party was pragmatic, but it has changed if it is asking farmers to get prescriptions for doses and intramammaries. I find it difficult to understand.

Despite the Government’s commitment to consult interested parties about the proposed changes, I have not met a farmer or vet who agrees with the changes. The Irish Veterinary Union sent me a letter expressing its feelings about the matter. I cannot see what the changes will achieve. Ireland exports 90% of its meat products. Farmers are mindful of food safety issues and the need to produce a quality product because they know they will suffer if there is a blip in food quality. Irish milk is tested rigorously for residue and random tests are carried out on meat. Farmers know they will suffer the consequences if they fail such tests. What is the point of putting this extra burden on farmers? I refer to the inconvenience to farmers of trying to source vets, for example. It can be very difficult to find vets in many areas. The Irish Veterinary Union spoke about competition among vets, but very few parts of the country have more than one vet. There are no vets at all in places like north Mayo. The proposed changes, which will give rise to hardship and additional costs, will achieve nothing.

  8 o’clock

This is a sad day. Successive Fianna Fáil Governments have put the boot into farmers over the past 18 years. They have been taken in hook, line and sinker by the mantras which have emerged from the Department of Agriculture and Food. No Minister has stood up to the Department’s blather. If one reads the reports on the website of the EU investigation office, one will learn that many places did not reach the required standard and that many investigations were not carried out in the required manner. A comment that sticks in my mind is the suggestion that the Irish officials went over and above what was required in the EU directive.

I call on all colleagues in the House to support this worthwhile motion, as I will. I ask those inclined to do otherwise if they really believe the Minister will reverse this in a number of months. Why sign up to it if she intends to reverse it? I commend the motion to the House. I hope in particular that the Independent Deputies, who may have supported the Government in the past, might show some common sense.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  It saddens me to speak on the motion because this regulation is another attack on farmers, farming and a way of life. There is a [164]regular attack from the Department of Agriculture and Food and a regular attack from Europe. Deputy Timmins is correct; when directives and regulations emerge from the European Union, every other country involved adopts part of what is proposed but we in this country always have to go six steps further.

As we often discuss Europe, I will tell the Minister of State, Deputy Browne, a simple story. A constituent of mine made a complaint to the EU, the same EU that is complaining to the Government and telling us how to regulate our lives, farming and the whole world. This man spent a colossal amount of money to prepare, register and send a document. It was accepted by an official — I will be careful what I call him because the Leas-Cheann Comhairle might restrain me. Anyway, since the day the documentation was delivered, it cannot be found.

The directives emerging from the EU are no surprise because they are probably all mixed up. The EU staff do not have a lot to do. It is full of officials, yet Ministers and officials from the Department fly over daily with their new briefcases. I think they go for the spin or to keep up their points with Aer Lingus and Ryanair, because it is certain they do not know what is going on. Anyone who would adopt this regulation is out of touch with the real world.

Farmers have been complaining for the past 20 years about form-filling and being over-regulated, yet a similar situation arises with this regulation. Deputy Timmins is half right about north Mayo — there is a vet there. The Erris area is as large as County Louth so a second vet was to go there. However, he gave up his practice and went to work for the Department. Why did he do this? It was probably a better and easier job. He will deal with the officials of the Department, who will keep him informed as to what is happening. He is a great man with the pen so I am sure he will get plenty of paperwork from the Department, which is all it is good for.

With regard to the regulation, what is a farmer in Pollathomas, Rossport or any other part of County Mayo to do if he has a sick animal at 3 a.m? There is one vet in the area, who might be 30 or 40 miles away. Should he telephone that vet, who might have been working all that day, and ask him or her to visit in the middle of the night? Does anyone think that a vet will visit a sick animal at that time of night to write a prescription?

If we have learned anything in this country, we should have learned from the General Medical Service scheme, which deals with a similar situation. Under this scheme, pharmacies are not overpaid because, whatever the medication costs, they receive a handling charge of some €2.80 to €3 per transaction, which is fine. It is enough to have doctors getting paid to write prescriptions, as well as getting paid through the GMS scheme [165]and the drugs subsidy scheme, without having vets copy the GMS scheme. Vets will be paid and in three years or so we will have to put down freedom of information requests to find out about all the deals and negotiations that have taken place. Half the budget of the Department of Agriculture and Food will go to vets instead of going to farmers.

Farmers have had enough of this. They are sick and tired of being attacked — Blair is at it in Britain, attacking a deal done on the single farm payment. It is not good enough. Young farmers, men and women, complain to me and every rural Deputy, including Fianna Fáil Deputies, if they are listening.

Deputy Kitt was correct this morning to state that the Government has been implementing its policies for almost 18 years. What is wrong is that the Government no longer thinks this is a democracy but a dictatorship. It thinks it can do what it wants and disorganise the lives of the people, particularly in rural Ireland. The people have had enough of the Government. They await their opportunity. The Minister of State, Deputy Browne, should enjoy his little stint. He would be as well to keep it running for two years because the tank is empty. The people are waiting. They have had enough of over-regulation.

The Government should leave the regulation as it is. I call on the Fianna Fáil backbenchers to support the motion. I will not call on the Independent Deputies because there is only one independent in this House — myself. The rest of the Independents run behind the Government parties even though they are elected. They take the €35,000 they are allocated as Independents but they are certainly not independent.

The current regulation is working. Farming is under pressure and has been for many years. There is no logic in the new regulation. Some brain box in Europe was asked by his boss to do some work so he thought up this idea and sent it to the Department of Agriculture and Food. The staff there do not have as much work as previously due to the introduction of the single farm payment. They have more time on their hands so all they do is cause problems for farmers with REPS payments and other matters. I recently put down a question to the Minister about the fact that despite the single payment and the new agricultural rules and regulations, the Department still has the same number of staff. As there have been no reductions, some job must be found for the staff. The Department thought of a job for them, namely, to annoy farmers more for fear they have not been annoyed for the last number of years.

Mr. Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  To carry on from Deputy Ring, the present system is working so why break it? Ireland’s current system is a model for the rest of Europe and has gained Irish farmers an inter[166]national reputation as a high quality food producer. This is why we are so successful at exporting our dairy and beef produce across the world.

Instead of reclassifying veterinary medicines into different categories that can be prescribed by registered professionals with graded levels of qualifications and competences, the approach outlined in the draft regulations published by the Department of Agriculture and Food in August would impose a rigid veterinary prescription only regime while applying for exemptions from the prescription requirement at European level. This will not work for the reasons outlined by my colleagues. In some parts of the country, vets are not available and the regulation will make it difficult for farmers who have administered certain medicines for years in the knowledge that if they did anything wrong, they could jeopardise not only their own livelihoods but those of other farmers.

The most effective way of ensuring high levels of animal health and welfare is to encourage farmers and animal owners to take a preventative approach where veterinary medicines are concerned. This can best be done by enabling them to procure and administer routine management drugs, such as external and internal parasiticides and vaccines, as easily and as early as possible. Vets should continue to be called for cases requiring a clinical diagnosis or the prescription of antibiotics, steroids and other high risk medicines. However, the draft regulations should make provisions for differentiated categories of drugs which can be prescribed by other professionals who are qualified to do so, such as licensed merchants, agricultural scientists, pharmacists and others.

This restrictive regime, which will be introduced if the regulation is adopted in Ireland in the manner proposed, will have major implications for the farming industry throughout the country. A further worry is the cross-Border distortion of the market in veterinary medicine products that will be introduced. I am sure the Minister of State, Deputy Brendan Smith, will be very familiar with the type of cross-Border smuggling that took place in the past, particularly with regard to angel dust and other cattle hormones. If the regulation is introduced, there will be another, totally different black market. Unless there is a common regime in this country, north and south of the Border, a very dangerous precedent will be set if this is introduced. I mean that sincerely given what happened in the past. Most of the angel dust, illegal growth promoters, etc. which came into this country came from the North, as the Ministers of State know. It involved a major racket.

Farmers have been very responsible, despite what people say about them, as have vets. Vets and farmers have a very successful partnership and together they have ensured we have one of [167]the best products in the world. That must be acknowledged. No vet contacted me about this proposed regime, or lobbied me to have it introduced. However, a number of farmers contacted me. Vets’ livelihoods will not be threatened in any way if this is not introduced because they have enough work to do. They are expanding into several areas rather than confining themselves to farming.

I appeal to the Minister and Ministers of State to rethink the proposed regime as it is very important that they do so. I appeal to the Ministers of State, two practical people and, I hope, pragmatists, not to allow this to develop. They are accompanied by a very good civil servant who I worked with in the past who will advise them properly.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Browne): Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  I thank Deputies on both sides of the House for their constructive contributions to the debate. I am aware of the concerns of farmers in particular about the possible implications of the draft regulations for the supply and cost of veterinary medicines, but I emphasise that most of these concerns are based on a misunderstanding of the real position which the Minister explained in considerable detail last evening. These concerns arise, in particular, from the requirement in the EU directive that all veterinary medicines for food producing animals must be subject to prescriptions. However, implementation of this provision is being postponed until a decision is taken at EU level on the criteria for exempting certain medicines from this new requirement or until 1 January 2007 at the latest.

In the meantime, in so far as the issue of prescribing veterinary medicines is concerned, the only change arising from the draft regulations is that apart from intramammaries, all other off-prescription medicines will remain off-prescription until 1 January 2007. The suggestion was made during the debate last night that some of the POME medicines could be classified by the Irish Medicines Board as prescription only before 1 January 2007. Given the nature of the work involved in the re-classification of medicines and the overall policy of my Department that the status quo should be maintained in so far as possible, these medicines will not be reclassified in advance of a resolution of the exemption criteria issue.

The Minister made it clear that she intends to avail of the exemption clause to the maximum extent possible and the Department has made a submission to the European Commission with a view to retaining off prescription in Ireland all products, other than intramammaries, which currently enjoy this status. There is no reason to believe, as was suggested by Deputy Naughten, that the criteria will not be adopted until [168]November 2006. As the Minister said yesterday, the Commission has undertaken to publish the criteria next spring and my Department will continue to press it to honour this commitment.

The suggestion that we should provide in the regulations at this stage to permit qualified professionals, other than vets, to write prescriptions is both mistaken and defeatist. In essence, what is being suggested is that my Department should throw in the towel before the fight, or in this case before the negotiations on the exemptions criteria start. It is not practicable to take a decision to extend the range of prescribers until we know what additional medicines will become prescription-only. In any event, it would be extremely foolish to provide at this stage for prescriptions to be written by people other than vets because to do so would also necessarily oblige me to designate as prescription-only some medicines currently off prescription.

More importantly, it would completely undermine our negotiating position on the exemption criteria if I were to re-categorise unilaterally at this stage some off-prescription medicines as prescription-only. My Department’s approach of deferring a decision on whether it will be necessary to extend the range of prescribers until the exemption criteria issue is resolved is the best approach to take in the circumstances I have outlined. The Minister has undertaken to consider this issue next year in light of the EU decision on the criteria for exempting certain products from the prescription only requirement.

Our overall objective in making these regulations is to put in place a workable and competitive system for the distribution of medicines within the parameters of the EU directive which at the same time protects public and animal health, facilitates our food export trade and minimises costs for producers. We have achieved a delicate balance between all of these competing objectives. In particular, the draft regulations include a range of measures designed to make the arrangements for prescribing and supplying medicines more farmer-friendly and to introduce a greater degree of competition into the market for veterinary medicines.

The most important of these are as follows. We are removing the general requirement on veterinary practitioners to examine animals clinically before prescribing, thus according greater weight to professional judgment. We are extending the period of validity of prescriptions from 31 days to six months. We are introducing a new requirement that veterinary practitioners must, in all cases, issue written prescriptions even if the practitioner supplies the medicine. Also, the vet must issue the client with an invoice for supplying the product which is distinct from the invoice in respect of the provision of professional services. We are providing for the first time that prescribed veterinary medicines may, with certain excep[169]tions, be supplied by licensed merchant outlets. These amendments will result in a regime which is more coherent, effective and workable. I commend the amendment to the House.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  I congratulate Deputy Naughten on tabling this extremely important motion. I refer to a number of issues mentioned. I am glad the Minister has arrived.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I was listening to the eloquent speeches from my side of the House. I look forward to the Deputy’s rendition.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  I congratulate the Minister on the great work she has done in opening up the Egyptian market after seven years. We will wait to see how long it lasts and how it benefits us.

We had a long discussion on the Brazilian beef issue at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture and Food. The one aspect the IFA delegation welcomed was that there was unanimous backing for a total ban on beef from Brazil. I notice some Deputies in the House congratulated the Minister on what she had done but it is important she listens and recognises that there is anxiety——

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I cannot ban Brazilian beef. The Deputy knows that.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  ——and a genuine wish for a total ban on such beef. There was unanimous agreement on that issue which the Minister can accept if she wishes.

Some of her colleagues talked about the meetings they had with vets and farmers. We have all had such meetings and had to listen to people talk about the difficulties these regulations will create. Exemptions will be in place for the time being. The fact this issue does not have to be dealt with until January 2006 reminds me of the nitrates directive which we kept putting off saying decisions would not be taken until later and that there would be wide consultation and so on. What gets me is the fact that intramammaries will not be off prescription.

I was not present for all the Minister’s speech but she said the House was no doubt aware of the growing concerns about the growth of antibiotic resistance, particularly over the past ten years. She went on to talk about the World Health Organisation, the organisation which allows hormones, steroids and so on to be used in America without a word said while we must meet all sorts of regulations. The Minister also referred to the Irish Medicines Board’s anxiety about intramammaries. She also said the creameries were quite successful. I wonder why the speech writer thought it was necessary to insert the words “quite successful”. Members involved in farming know that creameries have been extremely suc[170]cessful in regulating intramammaries under existing mechanisms. We then heard about international scientific opinion on the prudent use of antibiotics. We also heard about the Minister’s predecessor who had no option to introduce an alternative system. Many other reasons were listed why this regulation was drafted. A farmer can buy intramammaries or dry tubes from his vet or co-operative store, provided he works within legislation. The farmer then ensures the tubes are used properly because he knows it is wrong to do otherwise. More importantly, he knows if he is found out through testing of the milk tank, he will lose much money.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The primary reason should be for the health of the animal. If the Deputy ever suffered from mastitis he would know that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Allow Deputy Crawford without interruption.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  That might sound funny to the Minister.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It is true because the primary function of every farmer is to care for their animals.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  I accept she has the right to make jokes. However, it is not funny as far as farmers are concerned. They take this matter very seriously.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  So do I. The insincerity of the Opposition benches is just laughable.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  The record over the last several years is extremely strong.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  My speech last night indicated the sincerity of my colleagues.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Allow Deputy Crawford without interruption.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It is we who are sincere.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  I have the right to be heard.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  If Deputy Crawford addresses his remarks through the Chair, the Minister might not be disposed to making interruptions.

Mr. McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  Seven farmers a week are being driven off the land by this Government.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  That is factually incorrect.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  That is total nonsense.

[171]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Allow Deputy Crawford without interruption.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Who abolished the schemes in the past? It was a Fine Gael Government that abolished schemes in the 1990s. Fine Gael messed up several schemes then.

Mr. McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  Seven farmers a week are being driven off the land. I was one of them.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  When both Ministers spoke last night we did not interrupt them.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputies on both sides of the House must allow Deputy Crawford without interruption.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  The Minister may not get the chance to answer these questions tonight. However, before the regulation is signed she will have a chance.Will the Minister for Agriculture and Food explain to the House how the veterinary prescription will change? The farmer will still utilise intramammaries and ensure the milk leaves the farm in a perfect state. Before she signs this regulation, will the Minister go to a co-operative to see how this process is monitored. After collection from the farm, a tanker of milk is brought to the co-operative. A sample is removed from it before it is utilised.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  We know this.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  It is fully checked to ensure no antibiotics get into the food chain. Every farmer’s milk produce is tested so it can be traced. How is this veterinary prescription going to benefit any health regime or otherwise?

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Because the democratic voice of the European Parliament is reflected in the directive to be implemented. It is decided by the Members of the European Parliament.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Allow Deputy Crawford to make his point.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The Deputy is aware of this.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Going back to this idea of a democratic voice, the Irish Farmers’ Journal recently stated——

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It is a great newspaper.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  ——that the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso, launched Brussels largest ever deregulation campaign because he believes the regulations being introduced are crazy. We must ensure these regulations are workable and are not brought in to raise the costs of farming. Where [172]does the former Minister of State, Deputy Ned O’Keeffe, stand on this issue?

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  That is irrelevant because I am the Minister and Deputies Brendan Smith and Browne are my Ministers of State.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  What does the Minister of State, Deputy Parlon, make of this?

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  We are running the show.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  A Cheann Comhairle, have I any rights in the House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy does have rights.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  He keeps asking me questions.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  The Minister for Agriculture and Food does not recognise those rights.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should address his remarks through the Chair.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  I am trying to but the Minister keeps interrupting me.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Because the Deputy keeps asking me questions.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Deputy Parlon is a former president of the IFA and has made great speeches for the Irish Farmers’ Journal about how he will deal with this.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  The Deputy backed him.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  What will he do tonight? The Minister for Agriculture and Food asked in her speech how the Opposition came up with a cost to farmers of €80 million. It is simple. The farming organisations put those figures to all of us based on the reality of what has happened in other countries.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It does not necessarily mean they are facts.

Mr. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  The Deputy reads too many newspapers.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  The Minister is working out the exemptions for the regulations.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I did not say that. If the Deputy reads the speech properly——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Minister for Agriculture and Food should allow Deputy Crawford without interruption.

[173]Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  He cannot keep repeating these misrepresentations of the Minister’s statements.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Deputy Brendan Smith’s misrepresentation on behalf of County Cavan is fairly good as it is. He should not be giving us any of this talk.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  My representation of County Cavan is very good and will remain so.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  There is a black market——

Mr. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  He is the shining star of the county.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  County Cavan is very proud. I am very proud of my representation of the county.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  County Monaghan is sinking behind it, yet Deputy Crawford is doing nothing about it.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Who will——

Mr. McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  The bottom line is the Government has destroyed the greatest asset this country has.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Deputy McEntee might not be long in this House but what the Fine Gael Party did over the last 20 years is a disgrace. It only represented a certain section of the agricultural sector.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  The Deputy is only interested in the big farmers in County Meath.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Minister will allow Deputy Crawford without interruption.

Mr. McEntee: Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  The Government has driven farmers off the land.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  We did not drive them off the land.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  It is as clear as frost in the night that those Ministers have allowed——

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  That is factually incorrect.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Allow Deputy Crawford without interruption.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  It is obvious they do not listen to facts.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  We do not listen to rubbish.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Or misrepresentations.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  They have given out plenty of it.

[174]Mr. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  That was some performance.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call on Deputy Naughten. I ask the House to afford him the courtesy to be heard.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  I welcome the opportunity to conclude this debate. I was disappointed the Minister for Agriculture and Food spoke for 25 minutes last night but never addressed any of the issues raised. As the Minister was missing from the Chamber for my speech——

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I heard the Deputy’s speech.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Please Minister.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  It is a pity she did not address those issues. Last night the Minister claimed that allowing non-vets to prescribe at this stage would completely undermine our negotiating position. She was not worried about undermining her negotiating position when she turned her back on the farmers in the midlands and the south east on the closure of the Carlow sugar factory. She was not prepared to become involved in it which directly undermined our negotiating position in the sugar reform talks.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  That is factually wrong.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  The Minister has failed to point out that the draft regulation must be passed by the House by 31 October next. Part of it will come into force on that occasion regarding intramammaries and the abolition of the prescription-only exempt category. Vaccines, immunological and non-immunological, under the PNOE category will be prescription-only from that date. The law will be on the Statute Book from 1 November 2005. It will not be some time in 2006.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The Deputy is scaremongering and he did not listen to one word I said last night.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Allow Deputy Naughten without interruption.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I said there would be no changes.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  She cannot deny it. This is the reality.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  A Cheann Comhairle, he has misrepresented what I said to the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I ask the Minister for Agriculture and Food to allow Deputy Naughten without interruption.

[175]Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  It is pointless for the Minister to talk about consultation some time next year when the regulation will already be in place.

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  In 2007.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Minister should allow Deputy Naughten an opportunity to continue.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  It is obvious the Minister does not know what is going on. In her speech last night she spoke of the animal remedies regulations, protecting the health and welfare of companion animals and pets. Sheep and cattle are not pets.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  They are docile.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Are we expected to start eating cats and dogs? The directive specifically deals with medicines for animals for human consumption. The Minister is relying on an exemption list. She is hoping to convince the other 24 EU member states that a range of medicines will be removed from the prescription-only regime throughout the EU. In her contribution she said the position in most member states, apart from the UK, is that the writing of prescriptions is confined to vets from which they do not intend to depart. How does the Minister hope to get unanimous agreement that these medicines should be exempt from a prescription in Ireland and in those other EU member states? She will not get their agreement to take prescriptions——

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Does the Deputy want exemptions?

[176]Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  The Minister should think about it. She will not get the agreement of 25 member states to make what are now prescription only medicines exempt throughout the EU.

The Minister and some Government Deputies focused on public health and residues. There is not a problem with residues in this country because farmers comply with withdrawal periods. Forcing farmers to get a prescription from a vet who has not been on their farm for maybe 12 months will not ensure compliance with the withdrawal period. It has nothing to do with residue and nothing to do with withdrawal periods.

This directive will be passed into law before the end of this month, not some time next year. It will be too late to review it after that because it will be on the Statute Book. If the Minister is genuine about this she will agree with the motion, as will the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Parlon, who did not even think it worth his while to come into the House. If all the backbench Deputies who have travelled around the country stabbing the Minister in the back by saying they do not agree with it——

Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  They have not.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  ——are prepared to come in tonight, they will have their opportunity on the floor of this House to vote against the regulation.

Many of the Government Deputies who spoke tonight were sensible. They did not mention the Minister’s amendment but talked about avian flu, the dairy industry and the beef industry. They ignored the issue because they know she is wrong, she will crucify farmers and put them out on the road.

I ask the House to support our motion and vote against the Government amendment.

Amendment put.

[175]The Dáil divided: Tá, 67; Níl, 52.

Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán.
Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall. Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin. Information on Seamus Brennan  Zoom on Seamus Brennan  Brennan, Seamus.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe.
Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael. Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  Davern, Noel.
Information on Síle de Valera  Zoom on Síle de Valera  de Valera, Síle. Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony.
Information on John Dennehy  Zoom on John Dennehy  Dennehy, John. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John. Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank.
Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael. Information on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Glennon, Jim. Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John.
Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  [177]Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M.J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Liz.
Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  O’Donoghue, John. Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis.
Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel. Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt.
Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona. Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  O’Malley, Tim.
Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Dan Wallace  Zoom on Dan Wallace  Wallace, Dan. Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe.
Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie. Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.
Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Wright, G.V.  


[177]Níl
Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan.
Information on James Breen  Zoom on James Breen  Breen, James. Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  Connolly, Paudge. Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  Cowley, Jerry.
Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John.
Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J.
Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Mildred Fox  Zoom on Mildred Fox  Fox, Mildred. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus. Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe.
Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda. Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic.
Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz.
Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  Mitchell, Gay. Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  Murphy, Catherine.
Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis. Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Seamus. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Ryan, Seán. Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor.
Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Sherlock, Joe. Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín.
Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet. Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David.
Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.

[177]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Curran; Níl, Deputies Neville and Stagg.

[177]Amendment declared carried.

Question put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided by electronic means.

[178]Mr. Neville: Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  As a teller, under Standing Order 69 I propose that the vote be taken by other than electronic means.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  As Deputy Neville is a Whip, under Standing Order 69 he is entitled to call a vote through the lobby.

Question again put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

[177]The Dáil divided: Tá, 67; Níl, 49.

Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán.
Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall. Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin. Information on Seamus Brennan  Zoom on Seamus Brennan  Brennan, Séamus.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe.
Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael. Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  Davern, Noel.
Information on Síle de Valera  Zoom on Síle de Valera  de Valera, Síle. Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony.
Information on John Dennehy  Zoom on John Dennehy  Dennehy, John. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John. Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank.
Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael. Information on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  [179]Glennon, Jim. Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Séamus. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John.
Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Dónal. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Liz.
Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  O’Donoghue, John. Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis.
Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel. Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt.
Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona. Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  O’Malley, Tim.
Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Dan Wallace  Zoom on Dan Wallace  Wallace, Dan. Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe.
Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie. Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.
Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Wright, G. V.  


[179]Níl
Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan.
Information on James Breen  Zoom on James Breen  Breen, James. Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  Connolly, Paudge. Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  Cowley, Jerry.
Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John.
Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J.
Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
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[179]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Curran; Níl, Deputies Neville and Stagg.

[179]Question declared carried.


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