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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 529-550
 Header Item Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments
 Header Item Fishing Fleet Modernisation
 Header Item Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments
 Header Item Bord Iascaigh Mhara
 Header Item Fish Quotas
 Header Item Aquaculture Licences Applications
 Header Item Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments
 Header Item Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments
 Header Item Rural Environment Protection Scheme Applications
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Payments
 Header Item Fisheries Protection
 Header Item Aquaculture Licences Applications
 Header Item Aquaculture Development
 Header Item Beef Industry Irregularities

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 796 No. 1

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Written Answers Nos. 529-550

  Question No. 529 answered with Question No. 503.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments

 530. Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding a rural environment protection scheme 2012 payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12843/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named commenced REPS 4 in March 2009 and received payments for the first three years of their contract.

  REPS 4 is a measure under the current 2007-13 Rural Development Programme and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before any payments can issue. These checks have now been completed for 2012 in this case and the 75% Year 4 payment amounting to €4,756.99 issued for payment on 7th   March 2013. The remaining 25% Year 4 balancing payment will issue shortly.

Single Payment Scheme Eligibility

 531. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if a person (details supplied) in County Kerry is entitled to a single farm payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12846/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Single Payment Scheme commenced in 2005 and was applicable to farmers who established entitlements by actively farmed during the reference years 2000, 2001 and 2002, and who were paid Livestock Premia and/or Arable Aid in one or more of those years. It is necessary to have entitlements and to have a hectare of land per entitlement to qualify for payment under the Single Payment Scheme. Farmers who have no entitlements or who wish to acquire additional entitlements may lease or buy entitlements from other farmers. Full details of the Terms and Conditions governing the Scheme are made available to all applicants.

The person named has submitted application forms under the Single Payment Scheme in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. However, he does not have any entitlements established under the Scheme and therefore has not qualified for payment. In addition, the area of 0.39 hectares declared is not sufficient to qualify for payment under any other area based scheme, such as the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments

 532. Deputy Tom Hayes Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if final payment under rural environment protection scheme 4 has been paid to a person (details provided) County Tipperary; and, if not, when payment will issue. [12860/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named commenced REPS 4 in October 2007 and received payments for the first four years of their contract.

REPS 4 is a measure under the current 2007-13 Rural Development Programme and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before any payments can issue. Following the administrative check an area discrepancy was discovered between the Single Farm Payment Scheme application for 2012 and the REPS Agri-Environmental Plan which has resulted in the need for further clarification. This issue is currently being investigated with the intention of an early resolution and payment in respect of 2012.

Fishing Fleet Modernisation

 533. Deputy Joe McHugh Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will outline his long-term plans for dedicated white-fish boats over 24 metres which are subject to increasing fuel costs and regulation commitments. [12861/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My overarching goal for the Irish Fishing Industry and for white fish dedicated fishermen is to ensure that we build a sustainable, profitable and self reliant fishing industry which protects and enhances the social and economic fabric of rural coastal communities dependent on the seafood sector. I believe that this can be achieved only in the context of a significantly reformed EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which places long term sustainability at its core. These objectives need to be balanced with the need to deliver a sustainable and ecologically sound fisheries landscape not just for the coming year but for future generations. This is at the heart of my efforts in the Irish Presidency to progress the process of CFP reform between now and the end of June. We have already made significant progress along this road with the agreement at the February Fisheries Council of a process to finally end the practice of discarding fish at sea over a phased basis. This policy and the other elements of the Basic Common Fisheries Policy Regulation will be negotiated with the EU Parliament and the EU Commission over the coming months with a view to securing overall agreement during the Irish Presidency.

In the current economic climate, it is necessary to have a policy that supports innovation, quality and added value in the sector. In that regards, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) operates a scheme that provides a framework of support for the Irish Seafood Industry intent on achieving internationally accredited, third party audited, standards for wild capture fisheries. Accordingly, appropriate standards provide an opportunity for the Irish fishing industry to not just reassure but also demonstrate their commitment to responsible fishing practices and to thereby retain and build market share. I am also pleased to report that BIM will shortly launch a new Fleet Modernisation Scheme co-funded by my Department and the European Fisheries Fund. This new scheme will provide grant aid to fishing vessels for investment in on-board equipment to improve working conditions, hygiene, product quality and energy efficiency. Grants of up to 40% will be available up to a maximum of €15,000 for vessels over 24 metres. Under the terms of the scheme, grant aided equipment must not increase the ability of the vessel to catch fish, however it may improve the value of catch through improvement of product quality.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments

 534. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a rural environment protection scheme 4 payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12877/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named commenced REPS 4 in July 2008 and received payments for the first four years of their contract.

REPS 4 is a measure under the current 2007-13 Rural Development Programme and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before any payments can issue. Following the administrative check an area discrepancy was discovered between the Single Farm Payment Scheme application for 2012 and the REPS Agri-Environmental Plan which has resulted in the need for further clarification. This issue is currently being investigated with the intention of an early resolution and payment in respect of 2012.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara

 535. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Mara Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney cé mhéad airgead atá caite go dtí seo ag Bord Iascaigh Mhara ar an togra feirmeoireachta éisc i gCuan na Gaillimhe; cé mhéad a chaithfear i mbliana ar an togra; cé mhéad atá caite go dtí seo chun eolas faoin togra a scaipeadh; cad iad na céimeanna atá tugtha ag Bord Iascaigh Mhara le cinntiú go bhfuil an t-eolas atá á scaipeadh acu neamhchlaonta agus cruinn; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [12882/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Is comhlacht reachtúil neamhspleách é Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) agus is saincheisteanna oibríochta iad na nithe a luaigh an Teachta agus is nithe do BIM féin iad, dá bharr sin. Is féidir liom a dhearbhú gur trí bhuiséad reatha BIM ón Státchiste a íocadh gach costas a bhaineann leis an iarratas ar cheadúnas dobharshaothraithe do Chuan na Gaillimhe. Chuir BIM ar aghaidh chuig mo Roinn iarratas ar Cheadúnas Dobharshaothraithe agus ar Cheadúnas Urthrá d’fhonn iasc eite a shaothrú gar d’Inis Oírr i gCuan na Gaillimhe. Tá breithniú iomlán á dhéanamh faoi láthair ar an iarratas agus ar an Ráiteas Tionchair Timpeallachta (EIS) a ghabhann leis de réir fhorálacha an Achta Iascaigh (Leasú) 1997 agus an Achta Imeall Trágha 1933, arna leasú.

Ní bheadh sé cóir domsa tuilleadh a rá faoi iarratas atá faoi bhreithniú gníomhach mar chuid de phróiseas reachtúil.

Fish Quotas

 536. Deputy Joe McHugh Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if boats of less than 15 metres will be considered for extra quota for herring in Area Vla in view of the fact that fewer than ten such licensed boats operate in the fishery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12891/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I consider that the industry itself is best placed to advise me on the management of fishing opportunities, given the wide range of factors which contribute to the optimum usage of available quotas. In relation to the monthly allocation of fishing opportunities, my Department officials and the representative producer organisations in the industry, both fishermen and onshore processors, meet each month and industry representatives make recommendations to me in relation to the quota to be allocated in the coming month for whitefish and some pelagic fisheries, including the small vessel herring fishery in Area Vla.

I will ask my Department to raise the Deputy’s proposal with the Industry at the monthly meeting when considering their recommendation on the catch limit to apply in the Under 20m vessel herring fishery in Area VIa for April and I will then consider all the issues raised when making my decision on the matter.

Aquaculture Licences Applications

 537. Deputy Dan Neville Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on correspondence regarding the granting of a licence for a salmon farm (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12898/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has submitted an application to my Department for an Aquaculture and a Foreshore Licence for the cultivation of Finfish near Inis Oirr in Galway Bay. The application and its accompanying Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is currently being considered in accordance with the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act and the 1933 Foreshore Act as amended.

The legislation provides for extensive consultation with stakeholders, including Inland Fisheries Ireland, which has responsibility for wild salmon stocks. The legislation also provides for a period of general public consultation. The public consultation stage of the process is now complete and submissions received are under active consideration by my Department.

All matters associated with the application including the impact, if any, on wild salmon stocks, will be given very careful consideration by my Department. It would not be appropriate for me to comment further on this application which is under active consideration as part of a statutory process.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments

 538. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney further to Parliamentary Question No. 581 of 12 February 2013, when the person will receive their payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12919/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named commenced REPS 4 in November 2008 and received payments for the first four years of their contract.

  REPS 4 is a measure under the current 2007-13 Rural Development Programme and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before any payments can issue. This process has now been completed in this case and I expect payment to issue shortly.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments

 539. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when the rural environment protection scheme payment for 2012 will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12932/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named commenced REPS 4 in February 2009 and received payments for the first three years of their contract.

REPS 4 is a measure under the current 2007-13 Rural Development Programme and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before any payments can issue. Following the administrative check an area discrepancy was discovered between the Single Farm Payment Scheme application for 2012 and the REPS Agri-Environmental Plan which has resulted in the need for further clarification. This issue is currently being investigated with the intention of an early resolution and payment in respect of 2012.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Applications

 540. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when an application for REP scheme payment in respect of of a person (details supplied) in County Laois will be approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12940/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The holding of the applicant was subject to an eligibility inspection in respect of the application made under the 2012 Schemes, including REPS. The findings of that inspection have been communicated to the person named in writing. The applicant has sought a review of these findings and this matter is currently under consideration by my Department. On completion of the review, the applicant will be informed of the outcome without delay.

Single Payment Scheme Payments

 541. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if a person (details supplied) in County Kerry who had to sell some of their stock due to health issues will qualify for an area aid payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13018/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person concerned has already received payment in respect of the 2012 Single Payment and Disadvantaged Areas Schemes. As regards 2013, the case will be assessed in the context of processing of applications submitted under the 2013 Schemes at the appropriate time. However, the principles of Force Majeure/Exceptional Circumstances will continue to be provided for within Scheme criteria to enable particular circumstances to be appropriately considered.

Fisheries Protection

 542. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the actions that have been taken to eliminate the damage being caused by Jagis Pacific Oyster in Lough Swilly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13065/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) is included in Annex IV of Council Regulation (EC) 708/2007 concerning use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture.   Article 2(5) of the Regulation specifically exempts those species listed in Annex IV from the provisions of the Regulation, with the exceptions of articles 3 and 4. Article 4 requires Member States to ensure that all appropriate measures are taken to avoid adverse effects to biodiversity, and especially to species, habitats and ecosystem functions which may be expected to arise, inter alia, from the spreading of these species into the wild.

  The exemption in the Regulation for the Pacific Oyster is that it has been in production for many years and has been moved from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Based on the results of a research study the Marine Institute has confirmed that Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) have reproduced in a number of Bays in Ireland, including Lough Swilly. It has not, however, been demonstrated that the presence of C. gigas   has resulted in ecological damage to marine communities within the Lough.

  In response to the presence of Pacific oysters in the Lough, a fishery, regulated by Inland Fisheries Ireland, has developed for feral oysters which would appear to have resulted in the removal of considerable biomass of Pacific oysters from the Lough over the last 2 years. In addition, oyster aquaculture operations have started to use triploid Pacific oysters which are considered, for the most part, reproductively sterile and, therefore, will reduce the contribution of larvae from this source.

  The Marine Institute is in the process of finalising an “Appropriate Assessment” under Article 6 of the Habitats Directive and this will include management recommendations in respect of oyster production in the Lough.

Aquaculture Licences Applications

 543. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of aquaculture licences which have been granted on Lough Swilly; the purpose of each licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13066/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Fourteen aquaculture licences have been granted in Lough Swilly. The breakdown is as follows:

- two oyster licences,

- eight mussel licences,

- two oyster and mussel licences,

- one finfish (salmon) licence.

  An aquaculture licence is required for the culture or farming of any species of fish, aquatic invertebrate animal of whatever habitat or aquatic plant, or any aquatic form of food suitable for the nutrition of fish.

Aquaculture Development

 544. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the checks that have been carried out by his Department to examine potential oyster diseases in Lough Swilly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13067/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  Fish health surveillance is carried out by the Marine Institute under Council Directive 2006/88EC.

  Under that Directive, the entire coastline of Ireland has been declared free from Marteilia refringens while there have been recorded instances of Bonamia ostrea and Ostreid herpes virus (OsHV1-uvar).

  Specifically in relation to Lough Swilly, over the period since 2007, the bay has been tested for the presence of all 3 pathogens. It remains free from Marteilia refringens but is infected with Bonamia ostrea and Ostreid herpes (OsHV1-uvar).

Beef Industry Irregularities

 545. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney further to the broadcast of a BBC "Spotlight" programme on 5 March 2013 on the horsemeat scandal, if he will confirm that his Department responded to an approach two years ago which raised concerns about Irish horses and the food chain; and if the approach was responded to by his Department with a statement that the mess will clean itself. [13081/13]

 546. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney further to the broadcast of a BBC "Spotlight" programme on 5 March 2013 on the horsemeat scandal, if he can confirm that he was requested to provide a comment to the programme makers but responded that he was too busy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13082/13]

 547. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney further to the broadcast of a BBC "Spotlight" programme on 5 March 2013 on the horsemeat scandal, if he will confirm that information was provided to his Department two years ago which raised concerns about Irish horses and the food chain; and, if so, the way in which his Department responded to those concerns. [13083/13]

 548. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney further to the broadcast of a BBC "Spotlight" programme on 5 March 2013 on the horsemeat scandal, if he proposes to investigate the claims made in the programme regarding passports for low weight and less valuable horses to the meat trade being switched for higher weight and more valuable horses to the meat trade. [13084/13]

 549. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney further to the broadcast of a BBC "Spotlight" programme on 5 March 2013 on the horsemeat scandal, if he will confirm the number of horses slaughtered in the State in 2012; and if he will quantify the way the slaughtered animals were subsequently processed. [13085/13]

 550. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney further to the broadcast of a BBC "Spotlight" programme on 5 March 2013 on the horsemeat scandal, if he will confirm that he is satisfied with the operation (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if any of the concerns raised in the programme will be investigated by his Department. [13086/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I propose to take Questions Nos. 545 to 550, inclusive, together.

  Some 11,402 horses were slaughtered in slaughter plants approved by my Department in 2012. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has advised that 12,960 horses were slaughtered in local authority approved slaughter plants in 2012. I understand that the bulk of the meat from these animals was exported for human consumption, some following further processing in approved cutting plants in Ireland. The remainder was exported as full carcasses. The main export markets are Belgium, France and Italy.

  Under EU law, responsibility for compliance with food safety and traceability requirements rests in the first instance with food business operators (FBOs). This is augmented by official controls, applied at different stages in the food supply chain. My Department implements official controls in relation to horse identification at marts and other sales venues, in abattoirs under its supervision and at points of entry to the country.

  All equines (which include horses, ponies and donkeys) are required to be identified in accordance with EU and national legislation. Equines issued with a passport after 1 July 2009 must have a corresponding microchip implanted by a veterinarian, which is recorded in the passport and creates a link between the passport and the animal. The passport includes information on any veterinary medicines administered to equines. An equine for slaughter for human consumption must be accompanied to the slaughterhouse by its passport and the information on the passport determines whether the animal can be slaughtered for human consumption. Horses treated with certain veterinary medicines such as phenylbutazone, known in the industry as ‘bute’, are permanently excluded from the human food chain in order to protect public health and the passport of the horse in question is endorsed by the prescribing veterinary practitioner to this effect.

  My Department has detailed procedures for the slaughter of horses in abattoirs under its supervision and has communicated these and the checks required both to its staff and the business operators. It has liaised with passport issuing agencies in Ireland and has developed protocols to allow abattoir operators to check the details of passports with these agencies to seek to ensure that they are valid and that only those horses eligible for slaughter are slaughtered. Where forged or tampered passports accompanying horses to slaughter are detected, it is the policy that such animals are destroyed and removed from the food chain.

  Ongoing vigilance is maintained in relation to official controls in this area. In that connection, the European Communities (Equine) (Amendment) Regulations, S.I. No. 371/2012,   introduced recently, provide for the updating of S.I. No. 357/2011 (European Communities (Equine) Regulations 2011) to strengthen the powers of the Minister in relation to approval of an issuing body for equine passports, authorised officers and prosecutions in relation to equine identification.

  My Department is establishing a centralized equine database. The intention is that this database will be used at abattoirs to assist in verifying the authenticity of horse passports for the equine presented and to record its date of slaughter.

  I can confirm that my Department has received a number of complaints in this area, some of which have been non-specific in nature. Information received in relation to alleged illegal activities in this State is taken seriously and investigated as appropriate by my Department and in certain cases by the Gardai. There is ongoing contact in this regard between the Department and the authorities in Northern Ireland and Britain. It must also be noted however that some claims have been made in the public domain in relation to this issue which, when examined by my Department, did not stand up to close scrutiny or warrant further investigation.

  While my Department does not comment on ongoing investigations, appropriate corrective action is taken if non-compliances are detected. I can advise that during 2011-2012 the Department issued Compliance Notices to two horse slaughter plants under its supervision. This led to temporary suspension of activities while corrective measures were put in place. In addition the approvals of one organisation to maintain a stud book and issue horse passports were revoked during 2012.

  With regard specifically to the BBC Spotlight programme on 5 March, it would not be appropriate for me to comment publicly on allegations made. I was not available for interview for this particular programme because of other commitments but I can advise that my Department did comment on queries received from the programme makers. I understand that some of the allegations made in this programme relate to activities outside the State, in which case appropriate checks would be a matter for authorities in the jurisdictions concerned. I understand issues were also raised in relation to an equine slaughter plant in this jurisdiction, which at the time concerned was under the supervision of a local authority. At present there are two local authority supervised equine slaughter plants in operation – one in Co. Offaly and one in Co. Limerick. I have decided to take both these plants under the supervision of my Department.


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