Despite proposal to centralise regional labs, Minister promises no 'diminution of service'

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Minster for Agriculture, Michael Creed has given ‘categorical assurance’ that there will be no diminution of service to the farming community following a review into the operation of the various veterinary laboratories throughout the country

In recent weeks, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has been conducting a study the five regional veterinary laboratories in the country in Sligo, Kilkenny, Limerick, Cork and Athlone as well as three dairy science laboratories, as well as the central laboratory complex at Backweston in Celbridge.

According to Sinn Fein Agriculture Spokesperson, Martin Kenny one of the proposals from the Department is that all veterinary laboratory services be based out of Backweston.

Such a move, he says would fly in the face of efforts by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Heather Humphreys, and others to retain jobs in rural areas.

“There are serious concerns in the farming community, given our difficulties with foot and mouth and other diseases, at the prospect of moving animals for veterinary examination to one central point.

“The view is that the current system works well and is not broken. We must ensure the regional laboratories remain in operation,” he said in the Dail this week.

In response, the Minister Creed said he appreciated the concerns that are in his view ‘being stoked up about these developments’ however, he said they are largely unnecessary.

“What is happening arises from an independent review conducted by the Department to ascertain the optimum structure for the laboratory service bearing in mind its obligation to serve rural communities, the requirements of the staff employed therein and the importance of the service in underpinning the export industry, which generates so much valuable employment both inside and outside the farm gate.

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“A consultation phase is under way with staff and no decisions have yet been taken.

“The review posts a series of options, one of which is the centralisation option.

“I offer the Deputy a categorical assurance that there will be no diminution of service to the farming community and no decisions will be taken without consultation with all stakeholders, including staff,” he said.

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