Minister defends horse passport system
Simon Coveney: "Can I be 100 per cent sure that no horse has, essentially, a false passport? I can’t be 100 per cent sure of that. All I can say is that we are putting as many checks in place as we can"
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has told the Dáil he cannot be 100 per cent sure that every horse has proper identification papers.He said his department was investigating a “small number of complaints” about forged or tampered passports being detected when horses were sent for slaughter.
There was also “anecdotal evidence that passports for horses are too freely available”, and the department now required all seven agencies permitted to issue equine passports to provide all their data to a centralised database accessible by the department. He was also insisting all slaughtering of horses was directly under the department’s supervision. This would “ensure we know exactly who is issuing what and to whom”.
The Minister was questioned by Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Eamon Ó Cuív about the security of the horse passport and microchip system.
“Can I be 100 per cent sure that no horse has, essentially, a false passport? I can’t be 100 per cent sure of that.
“All I can say is that we are putting as many checks in place as we can, and if anybody has any evidence of horses with false passports we will follow up on that immediately” Mr Coveney said.
He stressed that where forged or tampered passports accompanying horses to slaughter were detected it was the policy that such animals were destroyed and removed from the food chain.
Mr Ó Cuív asked if every horse brought to slaughter was checked for the drug “bute”, which is not allowed in the human food chain.
The Minister said “there is no evidence at the moment to suggest there is any connection between horses slaughtered in Ireland and the finding of horse meat in Irish meat products”.
Only two factories now slaughtered horses, and they were under local authority supervision. The department had since taken over and all slaughtering would be under departmental supervision.