Written Answers - Animal Welfare.

Thursday, 18 May 2006

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 619 No. 77

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  64.  Ms O. Mitchell  Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell   asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food  Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan   the number of animal welfare officers here; the steps she is taking to ensure good animal welfare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18771/06]

  80.  Mr. J. O’Keeffe  Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe   asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food  Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan   the number of animal welfare officers here; the funding provided by her Department to the ISPCA; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18770/06]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mary Coughlan): Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I propose to take Questions Nos. 64 and 80 together.

My Department has certain statutory responsibility for the welfare and protection of farmed animals. The legislation governing this is the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes Act 1984 and the European Communities (Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes) Regulations, 2000. In addition there is specific legislation in relation to pigs, calves and laying hens.

Welfare cases which come to notice are dealt with, generally, by officers based in my Department’s District Veterinary Offices. These officers deal with the implementation of animal welfare legislation as well as having responsibilities in a wide number of other areas related to animal health, disease control etc. I am satisfied that the resources available within my Department are [1772]sufficient to deal with such cases and to provide a high standard of animal welfare.

In 2004 the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council (FAWAC) developed an Early Warning/Intervention System (EWS) for dealing with animal welfare cases involving my Department, Irish Farmers’ Association and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals. The objective of the system is to provide a framework within which farm animal welfare problems can be identified before they become critical or overwhelming. The new system allows for concerned individuals to approach their local IFA representatives, their local SPCA or my Department in the knowledge that the matter will thereafter be dealt with in the most effective, timely and sensitive manner.

In addition to the foregoing, my Department makes ex-gratia payments annually to organisations, including the ISPCA, involved in the direct delivery of animal care and welfare services to assist in their on-going work. To date we have provided a total of €5.97 million to such bodies, some €1.2m of which was paid to 86 organisations in December last to assist them during 2006. A provision of €1.1m for this purpose is included in my Department’s Estimates for 2006 and applications will be invited later this year for payments in respect of 2007. A figure of approximately €543,000 has been paid to date to the ISPCA and affiliated branches.

The main statutes governing cruelty to animals in this country are the Protection of Animals Acts 1911 and 1965. Responsibility for pursuing complaints under that legislation rests with An Garda Síochána who may, on receipt of a complaint, investigate and bring a prosecution against any person alleged to have committed an act of cruelty against an animal. Officers of my Department are regularly involved in assisting the Garda in such cases.


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