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Independent.ie

Sunday 23 July 2017

Three regional vet labs in the firing line in Department review

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Regional Veterinary labs in Kilkenny, Limerick and Sligo are believed to be in the firing line in a review by the Department of Agriculture of its laboratory services.

It recently emerged that the Department has tasked a working group, led by Prof. Alan Reilly, and comprising senior officials with undertaking a review of its laboratory services, including both its Central Laboratory complex in Backweston, Co. Kildare and its network of Regional Laboratories in Athlone, Cork, Kilkenny, Limerick and Sligo.

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has said that a cost-benefit analysis will inform future decisions by his Department into the future of its Regional Laboratories.

According to informed sources, Laboratory services in  Kilkenny, Limerick and Sligo are most at risk of closure or amalgamation under the review.

The review has sparked anger in the farming community.

The Chairperson of Kilkenny ICMSA, John Robinson said, farmers all over the South East regard even the prospect of closure or amalgamation as an inexcusable degradation of a vital piece of agri-infrastructure at precisely the time when the region’s farmers and critically important food production sector needs reassurance and support.

Kilmanagh farmer, John Robinson, led a demonstration that met members of the Review Group as they arrived at the Leggetsrath facility to protest against the threatened closure and point out that in the event of the closure going ahead, local farmers would be expected to travel to Dublin or Athlone to avail of the next nearest laboratory. 

Mr Robinson said the idea that one of the state’s foremost food production areas and one of Europe’s most intensive dairying districts would be left without an official veterinary lab was, as he put it, “mind-boggling” and he promised that ICMSA would resist any efforts to reduce further the number of regional vet labs which now stood at a paltry six for the whole  state.


“A delegation representing Kilkenny and Laois ICMSA met with the department’s officials – I take this opportunity to thank them for that courtesy – and we made it clear that farmers all over the South East regard the idea that this office could be closed as nothing less than demented. 

"How is this idea meant to fit into last week’s announcement of the  ‘Realising our Rural Potential’ policy in which Minister Humphreys pledged to support real  economic reinvigoration of rural districts? 

ICMSA protest threatened closure of Kilkenny Regional Veterinary Lab
ICMSA protest threatened closure of Kilkenny Regional Veterinary Lab

"A  mere week later ICMSA discovers that one of the key state aids for the South East’s farming and food production sector is being considered for closure or amalgamation?

"It is quite literally mind-boggling and beyond comprehension that Kilkenny, one of the country’s most intensive farming areas, would have this facility unceremoniously stripped-out as exactly the time when wherever we farmers look, we see uncertainty.

"ICMSA will resist this negative proposal every step of the way”, Robinson said.


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