Monday 14 October 2019

New veterinary lab will not be ready until 2024

Minister's plan will see new facility being built at Dunally, Sligo

Paul Deering

Plans for a new regional veterinary laboratory in Sligo have been announced by Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed but the facility is not scheduled to be in place until the end of 2024.

The first stage in the development of a new network will feature the establishment of a helpline for farmers and their vets which can be used to seek advice and assistance, to book carcases in for post mortem examination (PME) and for subsequent follow up of laboratory findings.

It will also involve the establishment of two carcase transfer centres in Co. Donegal and Co. Cavan to which farmers can bring carcases which have been booked in for PME - and from where carcases will be delivered by the Department to Sligo and Athlone RVLs, respectively.

The next two stages will see the design, building and commissioning of two state-of-the-art laboratories in Kilkenny and Sligo, replacing the existing substandard facilities there by the end of 2022 and 2024, respectively.

The Department will then bring together the capability and expertise in its Cork and Limerick laboratories to establish a "Super RVL" at a green field site in North Co. Cork with carcase transfer centres in Co Clare and Co Kerry.

The final stage will involve the development of a Super RVL in Athlone with a carcase transfer centre in Co Mayo. The RVLs in Kilkenny and Sligo will be designed to accommodate a staff team of 15 people, the Super RVL in Co Cork to accommodate 45 people and that in Athlone to accommodate 25 people.

The plan for the Development of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine's Regional Laboratories, isd part of Project Ireland 2040 and will see an estimated capital investment of €33.5 million in rebuilding the laboratory network over the next 10 years.

Fine Gael Deputy Tony McLoughlin stated: “This is great news for the farming sectors in the North West Region. Since this issue arose two years ago, I have given a strong commitment to the farming community in the North-west region that I would not stand for any decision which would see the Regional Veterinary Laboratory close in Dunally.”

“This good news comes on the back of several constructive meetings I had with the staff of the Regional Veterinary Laboratory as well as with concerned local farmers from my area and IFA, representatives in Sligo and Leitrim.

“This is a good day for farming in the NorthWest,” concluded McLouglin.

Fianna Fáil TD, Eamon Scanlon, says the long-term future of the Sligo Veterinary Lab has been secured and should be of benefit to the farming community in the region who have been left behind by government.

He commented: “The farming sector has largely been left behind by government. It is welcome that the long-term future of the Sligo Veterinary Lab has been secured and will help farmers.

“It is a small win in a year that has been turbulent for those in the sector.

“I have raised this matter several times in the past.

“It is about time the Minister for Agriculture delivered something which will have tangible benefits for farmers in the North West.

“I under that plans involve the building of a brand new state of the art laboratory in Sligo.

“It is expected this will be completed and opened by the end of 2024. I look forward to seeing detailed plans and will ensure the Minister keeps his eye on this project and it is delivered on time,” he concluded.

Sligo Champion