Dáil Éireann - Volume 458 - 16 November, 1995

Written Answers. - Askeaton (Limerick) Farm Investigations.

33. Mr. Power asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if he will elaborate on his statement in Dáil Éireann in reply to a Private Notice Question to the effect that he was unaware of any legal alternative to the buyout and lease agreements reached with two farmers at Askeaton, County Limerick. [16999/95]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): In the overall investigation into cattle illnesses and deaths in the Askeaton area involving comprehensive actions by a number of State agencies with a co-ordination role being exercised by the Environmental Protection Agency, my Department was assigned responsibility for the veterinary aspects. The veterinary programme drawn up has been endorsed by toxicologists from both the UK and the USA and is centred on two farms which have suffered serious losses. One aspect of the programme involves a series of measures to establish the biochemical, haematological and pathological status of cattle and requires the retention of some cattle on the farms, the removal of some others to a State farm and the placement of cattle from outside the area on the farms. The cattle are to be [798] subject to ongoing and extensive monitoring and testing and their management has to be standardised to ensure the scientific integrity of the investigation.

In this situation, I was advised that existing legislation did not provide for the effective compulsory taking over of the farms and for their management in a way that would meet the requirements of the veterinary investigation. Consequently, I considered it advisable to proceed in the manner which I did, with the result that my Department is now in a position to carry out its investigation as planned.

The Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992, the Air Pollution Act, 1987 and some other legislation contain provisions which permit the entry of authorised persons onto premises and for limited and prescribed actions to be undertaken; but existing legislation does not authorise in the circumstances obtaining the effective taking over of the running of a farm to a prescribed standard, the compulsory removal of cattle and the compulsory restocking of the farm with other cattle, all of which are essential to ensure the integrity of the veterinary investigation.