Dáil Éireann - Volume 630 - 06 February, 2007

Written Answers. - Animal Welfare Bodies.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of animal welfare officers here; the funding provided by her Department to the ISPCA; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3580/07]

  Mary Coughlan: My Department has certain statutory responsibility for the welfare and protection of [1720] farmed animals under the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes Act 1984, and the European Communities (Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes) Regulations 2006 (SI 705 of 2006). In addition there is specific legislation in relation to pigs, calves and laying hens.

Welfare matters are dealt with generally by officers based in my Department’s District Veterinary Offices, who also have responsibilities in a wide number of other areas related to animal health, disease control etc. Funding is available to deal with emergency care, feeding, transport etc. of welfare compromised farm animals. I am satisfied that the resources available within my Department are sufficient to deal with these matters.

In 2004 the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council developed an Early Warning/ Intervention System for dealing with animal welfare cases. This involves my Department, Irish Farmers’ Association and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals. The objective of the system is to provide a framework within which farm animal welfare problems can be identified before they become critical or overwhelming. The new system allows for concerned individuals to approach their local IFA representatives, their local SPCA or my Department in the knowledge that the matter will thereafter be dealt with in the most effective, timely and sensitive manner.

In addition to the foregoing, my Department makes ex-gratia payments annually to organisations directly involved in the provision of animal care and welfare services, to assist in their on-going work. To date, a total of €7.2m has been paid to such bodies, some €1.24m of which was paid to organisations in December last to assist them during 2007. A provision of €1.3m for this purpose is included in my Department’s Estimates for 2007. ISPCA has benefited from these payments. The headquarters of the Association has received a total of €414,880 to date. That figure does not include significant payments to affiliated branches of the organisation at national and local level.

The main statutes governing cruelty to animals in this country are the Protection of Animals Acts 1911 and 1965. Responsibility for pursuing cases under that legislation rests with An Garda Síochána, who may on receipt of a complaint, investigate and bring a prosecution against any person alleged to have committed an act of cruelty against an animal. Officers of my Department are regularly involved in assisting the Gardai in such cases.