Farmers continue to rally over lab closure
Over 300 farmers held a rally in Sligo yesterday as farm leaders warned the Government that a shutdown of regional veterinary laboratories (RVLs) could harm the country's reputation for safe food.
There are fears that three of the country's six regional veterinary laboratories which are used for disease surveillance, are facing closure.
A review by a Working Group led by Professor Alan Reilly, is believed to have recommended that three facilities at Backweston, Co Kildare, Athlone and Cork should be maintained and upgraded, while RVLs in Sligo, Kilkenny and Limerick should close.
Farmers protesting in Sligo said this could lead to the carcasses of dead animals having to be transferred from Donegal to Athlone.
Richard Kennedy, deputy President of the Irish Farmers Association who addressed protesters outside the Sligo RVL, said it made no sense to close down laboratories which played such a vital role in maintaining the positive image of our national herd.
Mr Kennedy said reports that the Department of Agriculture was planning a "centre of excellence" were cold comfort.
Farmers attending the rally said they depended on the local laboratory to diagnose the problem if an animal died on their farm. The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine said no decision had been yet on laboratory closures. It said a long-term strategy for its laboratories was essential.