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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 139-158
 Header Item Covid-19 Tests
 Header Item Covid-19 Tests
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Tests
 Header Item Disability Services Provision
 Header Item National Drugs Strategy
 Header Item Hospital Equipment
 Header Item Hospital Equipment
 Header Item Hospital Data
 Header Item Hospital Facilities
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Emergency Departments
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item EU Regulations
 Header Item Animal Diseases
 Header Item Animal Carcase Disposal
 Header Item Basic Payment Scheme
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Animal Breeding Regulations

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 997 No. 4
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 82 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 139-158

Covid-19 Tests

 139. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the availability the health Service has for Covid-19 testing with rapid results; and if this rapid testing could be used to screen partners of expectant mothers in order to attend pre-natal scans and births. [24363/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Tests

 140. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of Covid-19 tests taken in a location (details supplied) to date; the positivity rate at this location; the number of persons who failed to show up for tests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24371/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 141. Deputy Neale Richmond Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of inspectors from the Health Service Executive, Health and Safety Authority and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine deployed to monitor whether pubs are adhering to the Covid-19 guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24374/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, in respect of number of inspectors from the Health Service Executive deployed to monitor whether pubs are adhering to the Covid-19 guidelines.

I understand from the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation that following the launch of the Return to Work Safely Protocol in May, the Health and Safety Authority assigned 67 field inspectors to inspect on foot of the Protocol following its publication and the economy reopening on 18 May. Since then, the Authority has taken the lead role in co-ordinating the cross-Government response to checking workplace compliance with the Protocol. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has advised that as part of the cross-Government approach, inspectors from the Environmental Health Service (HSE), the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine are also involved in checking compliance against the Protocol. They have also advised that the Authority is continuing to keep under review and reprioritise its inspection resources so that we can maximise numbers available for field inspection to check compliance with the Return to Work Safely Protocol and also to ensure the Authority’s existing legal obligations are met across all of our many mandates. The Health and Safety Authority continues to complete inspections across high risk sectors, checking compliance with occupational safety and health statutory requirements and compliance with the return to work safely protocol. In addition, the Authority’s inspectors carry out reactive inspections across all sectors where they have been assigned accidents or complaints, which may include businesses such as pubs and restaurants.

The number of inspectors from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine deployed to monitor whether pubs are adhering to the Covid-19 guidelines is a matter for my colleague the Minster for Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Covid-19 Tests

 142. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy Information on Francis Noel Duffy Zoom on Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will consider fast-tracking Covid-19 tests for schoolchildren and teachers to enable quick tests and results; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24376/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly A comprehensive, reliable and responsive testing and tracing operation is central to our public health strategy for containing and slowing the spread of COVID-19. The HSE has worked intensively since the start of the pandemic to put this in place and I would again like to acknowledge the huge work undertaken in this regard across the HSE.

Capacity has been in place since early summer to test 15,000 people a day/100,000 people per week. The testing and contact tracing operational and resource model has been designed to flex up and down as needed.  In recent weeks we have needed to flex it up significantly as demand has increased. We are testing more people than ever before, with over 71,000 tests completed in the week ending 12th September. The HSE has deployed additional resources to meet this level of demand, including the opening of additional community testing centres and mobile pop-up testing units, significantly increased contact tracing teams and increased laboratory testing. 

We had seen improvements in turnaround times over the week ending 7th September. 85% of GP referrals received an appointment the same day or the next day - the median being 0.9 days. The median time from swab to lab result was 29 hours, now down to 26 hours in the last few days. In total, the median end-to-end turnaround time for negative tests in the community setting ranged from 2.0-2.1 days while median end-to-end turnaround time from referral to communication of a positive result was 2.3-2.8 days. I do acknowledge that the system has come under strain in recent weeks, with a very significant increase in demand experience last week which resulted in some delays. There was a record of 13,000 referrals to community testing on Monday last week alone, and demand remained high for the week and into this week. As outlined above, additional capacity has been brought on stream quickly to meet this demand. 

It is critical that parents continue to contact their GP if their child has any of the symptoms of COVID-19. The impact that the requirement to restrict movements has while waiting for a test and a test result is understood. But it is essential to prevent any further transmission of the virus, protecting other children and teachers in school and the community more generally.

More generally, the HSE is now finalising a future service model for testing and tracing. This service model will aim to deliver a patient-centred, accessible, consistent and flexible service.  This plan includes the recruitment of a permanent workforce which has already commenced, and a range of other service improvements which will be rolled out over the coming weeks to ensure that people can access a test quickly and get their result quickly. Transition to the new model is underway and will continue through the Autumn.

Disability Services Provision

 143. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy Information on Francis Noel Duffy Zoom on Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his plans to reintroduce full disability care services, including respite care in special needs facilities (details supplied); the measures taken to give additional support to families caring for persons with disabilities that cannot access full disability care services due to Covid-19; if transport services for persons with disabilities to disability care facilities will be fully resumed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24377/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives.

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

National Drugs Strategy

 144. Deputy Thomas Gould Information on Thomas Gould Zoom on Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the progress made on the National Drugs Strategy 2017-2025 in 2019 [24382/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Frankie Feighan): Information on Frankie Feighan Zoom on Frankie Feighan The national drug strategy, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery, sets out government policy on drug and alcohol use until 2025. The strategy aims to provide an integrated public health approach to drug and alcohol use, focused on reducing the harms for individuals, families and communities and promoting rehabilitation and recovery.   

The Programme for Government endorses the national drugs strategy as providing a roadmap to treating the use of substances as a public health issue and to promoting a compassionate approach to people who use drugs.  

The strategy contains 50 actions for delivery between 2017 to 2020. The implementation of these actions is monitored though the national oversight structures, supported by a coordinated system of monitoring, research and evaluation as set out in the strategy. 

The annual progress report on the implementation of the actions for 2019 has been delayed by the impact of Covid-19. The report will be presented to the National Oversight Committee, which is meeting on 18th September. I intend to publish the report shortly thereafter.

Hospital Equipment

 145. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly when the CT scanner at Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe will be replaced; the number of times that it has not been functioning in the past 12 months; the period of time on each occasion; the alternatives presently in place at the hospital for CT scans; the cost of the alternative in the past 12 months; when the present scanner was installed; the date the warranty expired; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24384/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As this is an operational matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly as soon as possible.

Hospital Equipment

 146. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the location and number of CT scanners which are due to be replaced within the public health system by replacement priority; the date the warranty expired on each machine; the most recent date when each machine broke down; the period of time it was out of operation; the number of other CT scanners in each facility listed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24385/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As the Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of public healthcare infrastructure projects, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly in relation to this matter.

Hospital Data

 147. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of persons and waiting times for an urgent and non-urgent CT scan at each public hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24386/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The information requested by the Deputy is being collated by Department officials and a deferred reply will be submitted within ten working days.

Hospital Facilities

 148. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly when the development of the new 50-bed long-stay facility at the Sacred Heart Hospital, Roscommon will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24390/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As the Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of public healthcare infrastructure projects, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly in relation to this matter.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 149. Deputy Cathal Crowe Information on Cathal Crowe Zoom on Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if his Department, in conjunction with NPHET will consider revising or removing current Covid-19 restrictions at maternity hospitals that prevent spouses and partners from attending scans and other ante-natal appointments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24400/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I acknowledge that the current restrictions in maternity hospitals are presenting difficulties and this is hugely regrettable.  However, it is necessary to reduce footfall in order to protect women, babies, staff and our maternity service as a whole. 

Maternity hospitals have performed well during the pandemic and have continued to keep women, babies and staff safe.  The fact that there have been no Covid maternal deaths in this country,and that we have a had a low incidence in pregnant women, suggests that the current approach is working.

However, we must remain vigilant as services resume and higher numbers of people attend hospitals. Maternity hospitals rely on very specialised personnel; should an outbreak of COVID-19 occur in a maternity hospital, the ability to provide safe, quality care would be severely impacted.  It should be remembered that maternity hospitals care for fragile infants at the extremes of prematurity.

All maternity hospitals are challenged by the pandemic, but those challenges vary considerably.  Decisions on any restrictions are therefore made, implemented and reviewed at hospital level.

Decisions to restrict visitors in our maternity hospitals have not been taken lightly.  Management and staff are acutely aware of the very important support provided by partners at the time of birth.  I have been assured that maternity hospitals wish to facilitate this support as far as possible. In that context, I can assure the Deputy that any restrictions currently in place have been minimised as much as possible and will be subject to ongoing review.

Emergency Departments

 150. Deputy Gary Gannon Information on Gary Gannon Zoom on Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if the practice within emergency department units for next of kin or a chosen person to act on behalf of patients will be reinstated (details supplied); if a timeframe will be given for the reinstatement of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24403/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 151. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will review correspondence (details supplied) from the Health and Safety Authority regarding a business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24428/20]

 152. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will review a response from the HSA (details supplied) to a business; if he will provide further advise requested by the venue hosting the business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24429/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 152 together.

  The recently introduced regulations  [Health Act 1947 (Section 31a – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 4) Regulations 2020] - which state that events being organised may have no more than groups of 6 attendees indoors and 15 outdoors - apply to social, recreational, exercise, cultural, entertainment and community events.

  The NPHET has recommended that other types of gatherings, which are not covered by the Regulations, could be permitted to go ahead with up to a maximum of 50 people, in line with public health guidance relating to physical distancing and other protective measures.

  I would like to draw the Deputy's attention to the “Return to Work Safely Protocol” https://www.hsa.ie/eng/topics/covid-19/covid-19_coronavirus.html, which provides clear guidance to employers and to employees on the measures that must be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The Protocol is mandatory, and it applies to all workplaces right across the economy.

  The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is tasked with providing advice and support to employers and employees on what and how COVID-19 measures are applied in the workplace. My Department does not have statutory responsibility for the HSA, therefore the views of the HSA in relation to the health and safety aspects of covid-19 are a matter for the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation. 

  Guidance on the matter raised by the Deputy should be sought from the HSA Helpline which can be contacted at 1890 289 389 or wcu@hsa.ie.

  Public health advice in operation at the present time is available on the Government website at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/cf9b0d-new-public-health-measures-effective-now-to-prevent-further-spread-o/.

EU Regulations

 153. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if the concerns of agricultural merchants who fear that their ability to prescribe and dispense veterinary medicines will be adversely impacted by the introduction of EU regulations in this area will be addressed; if he will consider seeking a derogation on the matter from the EU regulatory authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24211/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue EU Regulation 2019/6 on veterinary medicinal products comes into effect in January 2022. This Regulation is binding in full and has direct effect on all Member States. There is limited national discretion available to Member States in relation to a number of the Regulation's articles.

  In 2004, European legislation established a requirement that all veterinary medicinal products that are intended for use in food-producing animals should be subject to a veterinary prescription.  However, a 2006 EU Directive allowed for the maintenance of non-prescription status for certain veterinary medicinal products which did not present a risk to human or animal health or to the environment, and which met the specified criteria for exemption from veterinary prescription. Ireland availed of the exemption in Directive 2006/130/EC at the time and antiparasitics were allowed to continue to be available without prescription. 

  There is a similar exemption available under the new EU Regulation 2019/6. However, since that time, our knowledge regarding the impact of extensive use of antiparasitics has changed.  For example, antiparasitic resistance has been widely reported in parasites of livestock species in Ireland and globally, resistance is developing year-on-year and is now a significant animal health issue. 

  In 2019, the Health Product Regulatory Authority’s (HPRA) Advisory Committee for Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) established a Task Force to review the method of supply of antiparasitic veterinary medicinal products that are intended for food-producing animals against the criteria set out in Regulation 2019/6.  A copy of the Report is available on the HPRA’s website www.hpra.ie

  The Report states that the available scientific evidence shows that antiparasitic veterinary medicines that are intended for use in food-producing species do not comply with the criteria for derogation from veterinary prescription specified in EU Regulation 2019/6. It also states that a consequence of this determination is that any such products that are supplied without veterinary prescription will need to be upregulated to supply under veterinary prescription. Therefore, Ireland and all other Member States must now comply with this regulation from January 2022. 

  In accordance with existing national legislation, from January 2022 antiparasitic veterinary medicinal products for use in food-producing species that are supplied under prescription may be dispensed by veterinary practitioners, pharmacists and Licenced Merchant's. This means that all current stakeholders that are already permitted to supply such products will be entitled to continue to supply them in the future, however, from January 2022 onwards, a veterinary prescription will be needed to dispense them. 

  Livestock based agriculture is critically dependent on the availability of effective veterinary medicines.  Increasing resistance to veterinary medicinal products threatens their availability in the future.  It is imperative to protect the drugs we have available currently as it is not envisaged that any new drugs are imminent.  

  In recognition of the challenges posed to numerous stakeholders by the new rules my Department has established an Antiparasitic Resistance Stakeholder Group chaired by the CVO.  Licenced Merchant and Co-Op representative bodies are members of this group. Two meetings have been held to date and a programme of work involving over 30 antiparasitic related projects is currently being developed. This group will examine all the issues with two principal objectives

  - Protecting the efficacy of antiparasitics which are critical to the Irish pasture-based production model.

  - Establishing a regulatory system that is pragmatic, retains a substantive role for existing stakeholders and delivers value for money for farmers

  A 5 week Public Consultation process on the Regulations, hosted by the Department, closed in late July with in excess of 100 submissions received. 

  My Department is considering these submissions, and is fully committed to working with all stakeholders in considering how best to implement the new EU Regulations on veterinary medicinal products. There is a dedicated email address allowing communications on the new Regulation: vetmedregs@agricuIture.gov.ie.

Animal Diseases

 154. Deputy Cathal Crowe Information on Cathal Crowe Zoom on Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if mandatory testing of Connemara ponies and cross breeds will be introduced to eliminate the threat of hoof wall separation disease. [24260/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The Connemara Pony Breeders Society (CPBS) has been approved by my Department to maintain the Studbook for Connemara Ponies and in this regard operates a breeding programme for the breed.

  Research carried out by the Connemara Pony Breeders Society, in conjunction with Weatherby's has enabled them to test for the presence of the HWSD gene. My Department has allocated funding to the Connemara Pony Breeders Society under the Equine Infrastructures Scheme since 2015 to facilitate this project.

  The results from this project will enable the Society to plan for the future and implement a strategy to manage this genetic defect identifying potential carriers.  This should decrease the incidence of the disease with a view to eliminating it for the Connemara pony population.   

  The Connemera Pony Breeders Society has informed my Department that testing of all purebred Connemara ponies is mandatory and a prerequisite for registration of all foals born since 2016 and that all colts/stallions brought for CPBS inspection must have an HWSD test completed. 

  Untested mares (born pre 2016) are encouraged to avail of testing when brought for inspection.

  All test results undertaken privately are published on the database with the owner’s consent (GDPR 2018). EU law requires the Society to register all purebred Connemara ponies of proven parentage.

  Regarding part-bred ponies, I am of the view that a programme designed to reduce the incidence should be concentrated on the purebred population where proper ancestry records have been recorded and breed make-up can be determined.

Animal Carcase Disposal

 155. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the number of fallen animals notified to his Department in each year since 2016; the role of his Department in monitoring the emergency slaughter of these animals; the number of fallen animals that enter the human food chain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24354/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue A fallen animal is defined by my Department as an animal which has died on a farm, for reasons other than being slaughtered for human consumption or killed as part of disease control measures. The number of on farm fallen animal deaths as notified to the Department since 2016 are set out below.

- *On Farm Deaths Stillborn Combined Total
** To 30 August 2020 171,245 33,726 204,971
2019 216,938 34,397 251,335
2018 253,829 40,791 294,620
2017 224,011 38,853 262,864
2016 232,524 43,131 275,655


  On farm animals may be euthanized by an approved animal collector (knackery), a private veterinary practitioner or by a competent person. The Department carries out ongoing monitoring of the fallen animal figures, as well as conducting a range of on-farm inpsection. Where there are welfare findings, the appropriate enforcment action is taken.

  Meat from on farm fallen animals is not considered fit for human consumption and is prohibited under EU Regulation 1069/2009 from entering the food chain.

Basic Payment Scheme

 156. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the reason the information previously submitted and accepted showing grazing rights for a 2019 basic payment scheme application by a farmer (details supplied) in County Kerry is not sufficient for the 2020 basic payment scheme application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24370/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue In 2019, the person named claimed one hectare in respect of the appurtenant grazing rights.  He already had enough other lands to cover his payment entitlements in 2019 so there was no overclaim. In 2020, he claimed 31.17 hectares for the same grazing rights but does not have enough other lands to cover all his payment entitlements.  The Department has written to him asking him to clarify his right to claim these lands.

Notwithstanding the above, my Department is aware of a number of queries with regard to the right to declare the lands in Derrymore East. Therefore, I have asked officials to make direct contact with the person named in order to discuss the detail of the case.

Proposed Legislation

 157. Deputy Joe Carey Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue his plans to introduce the Forestry Appeals Bill; the main provisions of the Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24380/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue At its meeting of 27 July, the Government approved my Memorandum seeking approval to draft an urgent amendment to the Agriculture Appeals Act, 2001 along the lines of the Heads of Bill presented. This will reform the forestry appeals process by bringing it into line with similar planning processes and is one of the commitments in the Programme for Government.

  The Bill foresees the introduction of the following main provisions in the Forestry licensing appeals process:

  - Clarification on procedures in relation to appeal hearings and other miscellaneous amendments in relation to Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC) conduct and operational matters.

  - Provisions for the designation of one or more Deputy Chairperson(s) by the Minister.

  - Provision for the FAC to operate in divisions. 

  - Introduction of fees for different types of appeals.

  - Introducing provisions clarifying who may appeal directly to the FAC, without first taking part in the public consulation process.

I published the draft Bill for public consultation on 30 July for a four-week period with a closing date on Friday 28th August.  My officials are currently reviewing nearly 9,000 submissions on the draft Bill received by the closing date. I am planning to present the final draft Bill to the Houses of the Oireachtas within the next two weeks if possible.

Animal Breeding Regulations

 158. Deputy Joe Carey Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue his priorities for improving the breeding and production of sports horses within Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24381/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I believe this is a sector that has significant potential to grow and develop providing increased returns to the economy My Department is fully committed to maximising the potential of the Sport Horse industry and continues to provide support to it financially and with policy initiatives. I have demonstrated my commitment to the industry by increasing the budget allocated to Horse Sport Ireland from €2.5m in 2018 to €3m in 2019 and a further €1m increase to €4.0m has been allocated in 2020.

My Department is committed to assist in the promotion and development of equine breeding and production systems in the country. This is achieved through working closely with Horse Sport Ireland. The sector has had tremendous successes in the Eventing discipline over many years with the Irish Sport Horse Studbook being first in the world rankings for 22 out of last 25 years.  In recent years there have been major successes for our young horses in the show-jumping discipline in World Studbook championships with these horses excelling at international venues like Lanaken in Belgium. Building on the key principles of good breed improvement programmes and development of breeders to access young horses early and produce them early for their appropriate market, Horse sport Ireland have proposed the National Equine Production Pathway as part of their Strategic Plan. This programme supports horse assessments, health screening, young horse production and educational days for breeders. This is clearly a programme I can support.

My hope for the sector is for Ireland to be in the top division of the World Breeding Federation of Sport Horse Studbook ranking for show-jumping in 10 – 5 years, producing horses that fit with market demands, properly produced for that market.  I will continue to work closely with Horse Sport Ireland so that this can be achieved.


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