Dozens of pensioner vets paid over €10,000 each for meat inspections
DOZENS of retired Department of Agriculture vets got payments averaging more than €10,000 each for carrying out meat-inspection duties last year.
Some 45 retired vets already in receipt of a state pension were re-hired to carry out the lucrative work in meat plants.
Attempts to deploy trained civil servants to carry out these duties much more cheaply have been repeatedly kicked to touch after meeting furious resistance by vets who went on strike in 2011 to oppose such a change.
Figures obtained by the Irish Independent show that 45 retired vets received payments for meat-inspection duties totalling €483,578 in 2012.
That works out as an average payment of over €10,700 each.
The retired vets were on a panel of 637 vets who carried out meat inspections in factories last year at a total cost of €14.7m.
The top five earners on this panel of temporary veterinary inspectors (TVIs) earned between €58,779 and €60,915 last year.
Vets were paid on an hourly basis at a rate of almost €68 per hour, though this was cut back by 5pc from July 2012.
The department said that the panel of vets did not include any veterinary staff who retired in the Government's early-retirement scheme in February 2012.
It said no applications for approval as TVIs had been accepted by the department since December 2011.
Vets carry out inspections of animals and carcasses at meat plants to ensure the animals are in good health.
However, Impact trade union has been pushing since at least 2009 for trained technical officers to be deployed to carry out meat inspections as happens in many other European countries.