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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1007-1031
 Header Item Animal Diseases
 Header Item GLAS Issues
 Header Item Harbours and Piers
 Header Item Food Imports
 Header Item Agriculture Industry
 Header Item Seafood Sector
 Header Item Milk Quota
 Header Item Forestry Sector
 Header Item Forestry Sector
 Header Item Forestry Sector
 Header Item Forestry Sector
 Header Item Departmental Internships
 Header Item Land Issues
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Road Improvement Schemes
 Header Item Animal Diseases
 Header Item Animal Diseases
 Header Item Beekeeping Industry
 Header Item Coillte Teoranta
 Header Item Animal Diseases
 Header Item Brexit Issues

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1005 No. 1
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 114 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 1007-1031

Animal Diseases

 1007. Deputy Joe Flaherty Information on Joe  Flaherty Zoom on Joe  Flaherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if steps are being taken by his Department following the outbreak of a deadly strain of neurological equine herpes on mainland Europe (details supplied). [12664/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue My Department is proactively monitoring the on-going outbreak of Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) in horses in continental Europe. My officials met with representatives of Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) and the Irish Equine Centre (IEC) to develop an appropriate risk mitigating response. HSI, in consultation with my Department and the IEC have published a protocol for sport horses arriving in Ireland from high risk areas of Europe outlining the measures that horse owners should take to mitigate the risk of spread. I strongly endorse the recommendations in this EHV-1 protocol that requires all those competing horses, on returning to Ireland, to isolate and carry out two PCR tests prior to completing quarantine. This is critical to the protection of our sector.

Whilst Equine Herpesvirus-1 is not a notifiable disease, given the extent that the virus seems to have spread across Europe and the description of the clinical outcome, I would urge all players in the equine industry to respond to the increased risk that this poses to the equine population in Ireland and to double down on their biosecurity practices and measures.

My officials continue to liaise closely with industry stakeholders, the Irish Equine Centre and colleagues in Northern Ireland on this matter.

GLAS Issues

 1008. 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 if a decision was made on the request by persons (details supplied) in County Kerry to have the penalty applied to their GLAS payment reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12684/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The person named was selected for an on farm inspection in 2020 and was notified of the findings by letter dated 5th February 2021. This letter outlined the option of appeal to the GLAS Section, Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford.

  The person named subsequently submitted a request for a review of the inspection findings to my Department's Limerick Office on 16th February 2021. This request is currently being processed and the review will be carried out by a Regional Inspector in due course.

  The applicant will be informed directly, in writing, of the outcome once the review has been completed.

Harbours and Piers

 1009. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the way in which the €3 million capital funding in Howth harbour in 2020 was spent under the fishery harbour and coastal infrastructure development programme. [12695/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Howth Fishery Harbour Centre (FHC) is one of the six designated Fishery Harbour Centres which are owned, managed and maintained by my Department under Statute.

  Capital funding is made available on an annual basis by my Department to the Fishery Harbour Centres, via the Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme.

  The table below provides a breakdown of the circa €3 million capital funding spent in Howth Fishery Harbour Centre in 2020.

Project Name
Middle Pier Berthing Face 1,288,864
Claremont Storage Units - Construction 941,532
Safety and Maintenance 293,035
Harbour Dredging - Design & Permit 215,040
Synchrolift Upgrade/Repair 148,829
Boatyard Upgrade 99,428
Harbour Workshop - Construction 51,143
Disability Access 19,953
Total 3,057,824

Food Imports

 1010. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the food import supply issues that have arisen due to Brexit; and if he will provide a detailed list of those items being delayed or no longer available to the Irish market. [12742/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Brexit presents very serious challenges for the agriculture sector, despite the Trade and Cooperation Agreement reached between the EU and the UK. Non-tariff barriers are resulting in increased costs for businesses, as well as delays and other impacts on supply chains. Traders are generally coming to terms with the reality of the changes that have come about since 1st January 2021, although the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland ensures that many of the changes arising from Brexit will not arise on the island of Ireland.

My Department is implementing checks and controls on agri-food goods arriving at Border Control Posts, in accordance with EU legislation. It continues to actively engage with a wide range of businesses and operators, including retailers, on both a bilateral basis and through the various consultative fora such as the Retail Roundtable chaired by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland's Retail Forum. These engagements are aimed at fostering a full understanding of the requirements to be met by operators responsible for consignments, and at resolving any issues in relation to, for example, the submission of documents. To date, we have not been made aware of any significant supply issues or specific difficulties in relation to particular products being delayed or no longer available to the Irish market.

I remain strongly engaged on this issue, but the reality is that this is a very complex area, and fundamental changes have arisen as a result of the UK decision to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union. This will ultimately affect overall trade flows between Ireland and Great Britain in ways that have yet to be fully determined.

Agriculture Industry

 1011. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the rules governing membership of a group (details supplied) a European Innovation Partnership Locally Lead Pilot project; the commonage rights and obligations in relation to participation in the group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12774/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The Blackstairs Farming Future (BFF) project is a European Innovation Partnership Locally Led Pilot Project. The BFF project is run by the Blackstairs Farming Future Project Team.

I understand that the BFF project is governed and bound by the BFF Terms and Conditions For Participating Commonages. The commonage rights and obligations in relation to participation in the group are contained within these terms and conditions and are available upon request from the Project Team.

Seafood Sector

 1012. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Zoom on Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if he will publish the terms of reference of the recently established seafood sector taskforce. [12795/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The terms of Reference of the Seafood Sector Task Force are published at the link below.

  https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/55014-seafood-sector-task-force/.

Milk Quota

 1013. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if there is a mechanism available to apply for a refund of a penalty that was applied to a person for over production under the milk quota regime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12811/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The Milk Quota regime required a quota being fixed for each individual producer, milk purchaser and Member State. A levy was applied for those who exceeded their quota. In the final years of the quota regime, a levy for over-production was only applied to a producer in the event of their co-op and the Member State also being over quota.

Following the end of the Milk Quota regime in 2015, my Department introduced a Super Levy Instalment Scheme, which allowed applicants spread settlement of their outstanding super levy between 2015 and 2017. To facilitate this, an agreement document outlining the full amount due and the terms for repayment was drawn up by DAFM and signed by both the debtor and a creamery representative.

Correspondence from my Department in relation to debts or liabilities deemed owing generally contains information pertaining to a right of appeal, the terms and conditions attaching to any such appeal and the timeframe in which such an appeal may be made.

Given that the question is general in nature, it is not possible to give specific detail outlining whether a right of appeal was advised or if it is the 2014/2015 instalment agreement which is in question.

Forestry Sector

 1014. Deputy Michael Lowry Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if afforestation initiatives will be included in the pilot agri-environment scheme being developed by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12830/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The Programme for Government commits to rewarding farmers for adapting to more sustainable methods of farming and to the development of a new agri-environment scheme capable of delivering broad environmental and biodiversity benefits that will align financial supports with climate objectives. To advance this objective, funding has been made available for an agri-environment pilot project. It is proposed to do this as a results-based project in order to align it with the principles of the next CAP.

The aim of this pilot project is to identify a suitable agri-environment results based scoring system and to trial this system at a national level with a view to identifying upscaling potential for possible inclusion in the next national agri-environment scheme. Under the results-based model, farm holdings with the highest scoring receive the greatest payment.

The details of this pilot project are currently being considered by my Department. A public consultation process ran from 29th January to 26th February and the submissions received are currently being reviewed. I expect the project details to be available and the application process to open in the second quarter of this year.

Forestry Sector

 1015. Deputy Michael Lowry Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the number of licence and scheme approvals his Department must issue each year in order to deliver on targets in relation to schemes (details supplied); the number for each licence and scheme type individually in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12831/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The Forestry Programme 2014 -2020 sets down specific targets for delivery of areas planted and roads built. The Climate Action Plan 2019 reset the target for afforestation at 8,000 ha per annum and the target of forest road works at 125km per annum. In addition, a goal of 30% broadleaf planting is included in the Forestry Programme 2014 - 2020. While there are no specific targets for felling, the Coford Roundwood Forecast predicts a felling requirement of 4.1 million cubic metres in 2021.

  The table attached outlines approvals for the period 2015 -2020, measures as number of licences for each category issued in each of the years.

  In terms of afforestation, my Department continues to receive and issue forestry licences daily. The area covered by issued afforestation licences so far this year is 910ha. There are currently applications within my Department’s system covering 9,600ha which are at various stages of processing, from the initial application steps to ready for decision. In addition to this, there is another 4,500ha already approved and available to plant immediately. It is up to landowners to decide to plant, once they have received approval to do so, but I would encourage anyone that has approval to arrange financial approval which is a straightforward process completed by their registered forester and to commence planting.

  Felling licences were necessarily prioritised in the latter months of 2020 to ensure a steady supply of timber into sawmills. I am mindful of the seasonality associated with afforestation and therefore have prioritised those for the coming weeks and while other forestry licence types will continue to issue, afforestation will be the priority.

  As regards felling, some three million m3 has issued since last August. Coillte now has 100% of its 2021 licensing requirement issued albeit not of all it immediately available. My Department continues to work with Coillte to resolve any issues to making their licenced material available.

  In terms of road construction my Department has licensed double the forest roads at 50km in the first two months of this year compared to the same period last year. The annual target is 125km as set out in the Climate Action Plan so this target is well on track to be met.

  In relation to broadleaf planting overall, in 2020 the 30% target was exceeded at 34% which means that approximately a third of all trees planted were broadleaves.

  As regards Native Woodlands, the level of planting has been steadily increasing, and was the highest on record in 2020, equalling the annual target of 450ha set at the beginning of the Forestry Programme.

  Other schemes such as the Neighbourwood Scheme, the Woodland Improvement Scheme and the Reconstitution and Underplanting (Ash Dieback) schemes are very much demand led. While we actively encourage participation in these schemes by those to whom they might apply, they are voluntary schemes.

  We have set ourselves a target of issuing 4,500 licences in 2021 and a new structure under Project Woodland, is being introduced to ensure that the current backlog is addressed and that a new impetus is brought to woodland creation in Ireland. This Project will involve a review and refresh of our processes and procedures and will include outside stakeholder participation to bring an independent perspective. It will be a task-driven process, with clear deliverable and milestones. We have set ourselves a very ambitious target of 4,500 new licences this year which represents a 74% increase on 2020.

table

Forestry Sector

 1016. Deputy Michael Lowry Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the person or body responsible for representing forestry and particularly afforestation on the present CAP post-2020 consultative committee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12832/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The Deputy might be aware that the current Forestry Programme 2014-2020 is entirely exchequer funded and received State aid approval from the European Commission. A request for extension of this State aid approval to the end of 2022 was granted at the end of last year, which means that the current programme will be finished at the same time as the current Rural Development Programme.

As set out in the Programme for Government, this Government is committed to a new national Forestry Programme, following the current programme, which will benefit farmers, the sector, the environment and society at large. We are also committed to better integration between the new National Forestry Programme and the next CAP to ensure that the measures in both complement each other.

The CAP post-2020 Consultative Committee includes all relevant stakeholders that represent organisations and activities that will be part of Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan. Many of my Department’s officials who work in forestry related divisions are represented on Department internal working groups and committees in which my Department’s approach to the CAP Strategic Plan are discussed. Through participation in these groups and committees, forestry has been contributing to the briefing on the CAP Strategic Plan draft Regulations aad is helping us to meet our commitment of better integration between these two significant programmes.

Forestry Sector

 1017. Deputy Peter Burke Information on Peter Burke Zoom on Peter Burke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the status of an application to the ash dieback scheme by a person (details supplied). [12877/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue An application for the Reconstitution and Under Planting (Ash Dieback) Scheme was submitted on behalf of the person named in November, 2020.

The application was referred to a Forestry inspector of my Department and a referral issued to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). A response was received from NPWS in late February. This is currently being considered as part of the overall application assessment and a decision will issue in due course.

Departmental Internships

 1018. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the number of students who undertook work experience or internships with State and semi-State agencies under his aegis in 2019; the cost in terms of wages and allowances; and the estimated numerical capacity of State and semi-State agencies to provide work experience and internships on an annual basis. [12948/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine welcomes students to take part in internships and to avail of work experience throughout our divisions and subdivisions. These positions are fully paid and all students are mentored by experienced members of staff. All students are remunerated at point one of the clerical officer pay scale. Thirty five students availed of work experience or internships in 2019.

  My Department is a long time supporter of providing employment opportunities for persons with disabilities and has participated for many years in the Willing Able Mentoring (WAM) Programme. This programme provides a six-month paid and mentored work placement for graduates with a disability. Four paid and mentored placements were facilitated in 2019 under the WAM programme. WAM participants are remunerated at point one of the executive officer pay scale.

  The attached document shows current Civil Service salary pay scales.

  The capacity of State Bodies to provide work experience is an operational matter for the bodies themselves. I have referred this query to the State Bodies under the aegis of my Department and have asked that they respond directly to the Deputy.

payscales

Land Issues

 1019. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if he will provide details of who may access the Land Commission records; the beneficial interest if any they must demonstrate in the land; the person or body that decides on access requests; the annual requests there have been for access to these records in each year since 2016; the number that have been refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13028/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Decisions relating to access to the records of the former Irish Land Commission are made by officials in my Department's Records Branch which has a storage facility located in Portlaoise. Owners and purchasers and/or their personal/legal representatives are granted access to certain documents by prior consultation with that office. Access is only permitted where documentary evidence of ownership or entitlement to ownership to the lands in question is provided, together with payment of the prescribed fee. The Property Registration Authority is also granted access to certain documentation, on request, to allow for the completion of current and past transactions and for the full completion of the work of the former Commission.

  The following table represents the number of search and retrieval requests processed by Records branch staff from 2016 to date. There are no statistics available relating to whether any requests were refused.

Year Number of requests
2016 1,117
2017 949
2018 990
2019 1,120
2020 1,405
2021 (to date) 338

Covid-19 Pandemic

 1020. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the level Ireland will need to be at before events such as agricultural shows are allowed to run safely under Covid-19 rules; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13032/21]

 1021. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the level of Covid-19 restrictions that agricultural shows will be permitted to run behind closed doors with exhibitors only in attendance adhering to Covid-19 guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13033/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I propose to take Questions Nos. 1020 and 1021 together.

  For public health reasons, the Government has advised that people should stay at home except in a number of situations, which includes travelling to and from work where the work is considered to be an essential service. Those essential services and other important information are published on www.gov.ie and Regulations are in place to support these measures. The measures are made based on expert advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and are kept under ongoing review by that group, with the over-riding consideration being the protection of public health in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

  I fully appreciate and acknowledge the positive benefits that these shows provide to the agricultural and wider rural communities and I am eager to see their resumption. However, decisions regarding the holding of these events, will only be made in the context of overall national strategies in relation to protecting public health.

Road Improvement Schemes

 1022. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if funding will be provided to assist farmers in the construction of agricultural underpass crossings on non-national roads in which such facilities are deemed essential in the interests of public safety and particularly road safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13073/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue There are a wide variety of items available under the suite of seven measures under TAMS II. However, funding for cattle underpasses are not included. The financial allocation in respect of TAMS for the full Rural Development Programme period is €395m. To date, total expenditure under the seven measures of the TAMS, including transitional expenditure, has reached in excess of €272m with commitments of an additional €142m made to scheme participants who have yet to draw down those commitments.

Some 37,226 applications have been approved under the scheme. All outstanding approvals issued represent potential outstanding liabilities for my Department and we must have a budget in place to pay these claims. As a result, it is not possible to consider adding additional items such as cattle underpasses to the comprehensive list of investment items already available under TAMS II.

Animal Diseases

 1023. Deputy Michael McNamara Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if he will prioritise making equine herpes a notifiable disease in light of an outbreak of EHV-1 in Valencia, the most serious outbreak in Europe for decades and the imminent possibility of the virus arriving in the State with horses being transported from Spain; and if so, when. [13134/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) is a herpes virus that is widely distributed across the world, including in Ireland. It usually manifests as a respiratory or reproductive disease and occasionally in a paralytic form. The primary risk mitigating measures are biosecurity and vaccination. Given its ubiquitous nature and the availability of a vaccine, EHV-1 is not a notifiable disease and I have no plans at this time to make it a notifiable disease.

Given the extent that the virus seems to have spread across Europe and the description of the clinical outcome, my Department is monitoring the situation closely. My officials met with representatives of Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) and the Irish Equine Centre (IEC) to develop an appropriate risk mitigating response. HSI, in consultation with my Department and the IEC have published a protocol for sport horses arriving in Ireland from high risk areas of Europe outlining the measures that horse owners should take to mitigate the risk of spread. I strongly endorse the recommendations in this protocol that requires all those competing horses, on returning to Ireland, to isolate and carry out two tests prior to completing quarantine. This is critical to the protection of our sector.

My officials continue to liaise closely with industry stakeholders and colleagues in Northern Ireland on this matter. I would urge all players in the equine industry to respond to the increased risk that this poses to the equine population in Ireland and to double down on their biosecurity practices and measures.

Animal Diseases

 1024. 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 the steps his Department will take to prevent the equine herpes virus from entering Ireland (details supplied). [13142/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue My Department is monitoring the on-going outbreak of Equine Herpesvirus-1 in horses in continental Europe. My officials met with representatives of Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) and the Irish Equine Centre (IEC) to develop an appropriate risk mitigating response. HSI, in consultation with my Department and the IEC have published a protocol for sport horses arriving in Ireland from high risk areas of Europe outlining the measures that horse owners should take to mitigate the risk of spread. I strongly endorse the recommendations in this protocol that requires all those competing horses, on returning to Ireland, to isolate and carry out two tests prior to completing quarantine. This is critical to the protection of our sector.

Whilst Equine Herpesvirus-1 is not a notifiable disease, given the extent that the virus seems to have spread across Europe and the description of the clinical outcome, I would urge all players in the equine industry to respond to the increased risk that this poses to the equine population in Ireland and to double down on their biosecurity practices and measures.

My officials continue to liaise closely with industry stakeholders and colleagues in Northern Ireland on this matter.

Beekeeping Industry

 1025. 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 steps will be taken to protect the native Irish bee population in light of an identified threat (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13165/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I fully acknowledge the important contribution bees make to agriculture and biodiversity as both pollinators and honey producers. In this regard, my Department provides a range of supports and initiatives to encourage and assist beekeepers and the national beekeeping associations. These supports include provision of a free disease diagnostic service for Irish beekeepers to help maintain the health of the bee population, funding to carry out applied research through the National Apiculture Programme, grants to national beekeeping associations and also grant aid to fund capital investments for beekeepers.

In relation to the importation of honeybees into Ireland, this is allowed under regulations governing intra-Community trade with other EU Member States. The specific health requirements for trading in bees are laid out in Council Directive 92/65/EEC. All imports of bees must be accompanied by a health certificate issued by the country of export. The reason for this is to ensure that imported bees are healthy and do not harbour pathogens or parasites that may be harmful to our native bee stocks, including the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida).

The importation of bees into the UK via Northern Ireland is a UK internal matter.

Coillte Teoranta

 1026. Deputy Steven Matthews Information on Steven  Matthews Zoom on Steven  Matthews asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if his attention has been drawn to the existing policy that offers indemnity to private land owners, whose land is crossed by a registered horse trail, if there is an accident; and if a similar policy will be considered that would allow indemnity on public land that would include land owned by Coillte to allow for the expansion of horse trails. [13189/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Indemnity for land owners in respect of the use of their land for recreational horse riding by third parties is not a matter for my Department.

  In relation to Coillte, Coillte CGA was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act, 1988 and day-to-day operational matters, such as the management of its forest estate, are the responsibility of the company.

  I have therefore passed the question raised to Coillte for response and direct reply to the Deputy.

Animal Diseases

 1027. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the actions he has taken in response to reports of a rapid evolution of an aggressive strain of the neurological form of EHV-1 originating from Valencia that has resulted in outbreaks in Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13200/21]

 1028. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the contacts he and his officials have had with their counterparts in the Northern Ireland Executive with regard to EHV-1; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13201/21]

 1029. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the quarantine and testing arrangements that have been put in place since his Department was notified of outbreaks of EHV-1 on the continent; when such measures were put in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13202/21]

 1030. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if he sought the advice of the chief veterinary officer in relation to the recent outbreak of EHV-1; if details of the advice received will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13203/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I propose to take Questions Nos. 1027 to 1030, inclusive together.

My Department is monitoring the on-going outbreak of Equine Herpesvirus-1 in horses in continental Europe. My Chief Veterinary Officer and relevant officials met with representatives of Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) and the Irish Equine Centre (IEC) to develop an appropriate risk mitigating response. HSI, in consultation with my Department and the IEC have published a protocol for sport horses arriving in Ireland from high risk areas of Europe outlining the measures that horse owners should take to mitigate the risk of spread. I strongly endorse the recommendations in this protocol that requires all those competing horses, on returning to Ireland, to isolate and carry out two tests prior to completing quarantine. This is critical to the protection of our sector.

My officials continue to liaise closely with industry stakeholders and colleagues in Northern Ireland on this matter.

Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) is a herpes virus that is widely distributed across the world, including in Ireland. It usually manifests as a respiratory or reproductive disease and occasionally in a paralytic form. The primary risk mitigating measures are biosecurity and vaccination. Given its ubiquitous nature and the availability of a vaccine, EHV-1 is not a notifiable disease and I have no plans at this time to make it a notifiable disease.

Given the extent that the virus seems to have spread across Europe and the description of the clinical outcome, I would urge all players in the equine industry to respond to the increased risk that this poses to the equine population in Ireland and to double down on their biosecurity practices and measures.

Brexit Issues

 1031. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the amount of the animal and plant safety documentation involved in the new UK to Ireland animal and plant health checks that is handled electronically arising from the EU-UK Free Trade Agreement; the amount handled by way of the presentation or use of paper documentation; if paper documentation is used, when is it planned to migrate to an electronic system of plant and animal health safety controls and check; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13215/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The requirements for animal and plant safety documentation are laid down in the Plant Health Regulation (EU) 2016/2031, the Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625 and the IMSOC Regulation (EU) 2019/1715. These requirements apply to all imports of such commodities into the European Union, regardless of whether the country has a free trade agreement with the EU or not.

All documentation required can be handled electronically. The requirement to submit certain information, in advance of the arrival of the consignment, as well as for the border official to certify that the consignment complies with the requirements, is handled through European Commission’s online platform called the Trade Expert and Control System (TRACES for short). Also in advance of arrival, importers can upload copies of documentation required for import controls (health certificates, customs declarations, commercial invoices etc) to an IT system specially built by DAFM (Import Notification Inspection System (INIS) Portal) to handle the very significant increase in demand for import controls following the departure of the UK from the European Union. Uploading of all documentation required in advance, facilitates checks in advance and the detection of problems before the consignments are presented at the border control post.

Whilst all documentation can be handled electronically, there is still a legal requirement at EU level for original paper health certificates to be submitted. Work is under way at EU level to replace the requirement for paper health certificates with electronic health certificates. This is a complex process as it requires electronic compatibility between systems in countries exporting to the EU, and EU systems. It also requires the development of solutions that will ensure the security of such certificates. However, my Department is committed to working through this.


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