Vets warn extra inspections after Brexit will hit services elsewhere

Veterinary Ireland says Government is unprepared for extra burden of inspections

EU rules dictate that compulsory physical checks must take place on live animals. at border inspection posts.

EU rules dictate that compulsory physical checks must take place on live animals. at border inspection posts.

 

The availability of veterinary services will be undermined after Brexit as the Government is not prepared for the burden of extra inspections at the State’s ports and entry points, vets have warned.

EU rules dictate that compulsory physical checks must take place at border inspection posts on live animals and animal-related food products coming into the State from non-EU “third countries”.

Veterinary Ireland, the representative body for vets, expressed concern on Tuesday over the Government’s “lack of preparedness for the provision of veterinary inspection services at our ports and/or borders in the event of Brexit”.

It said the Department of Agriculture plans on supplementing its permanent veterinary inspectorate with private veterinary practitioners to meet the additional needs.

However, it said there has been “no meaningful engagement” with Veterinary Ireland on the arrangements to be put in place.

Veterinary Ireland president Dr David MacGuinness said the Department has “unilaterally” sought to contract private veterinary practitioners for up to 40 hours per week to undertake portal inspection duties.

“This would have a hugely detrimental impact on the availability of veterinary services to our farming community and the public,” he said.

“The Department’s proposals would see private veterinary practitioners being removed from an already overstretched veterinary service serving the needs of the farming community and the public which includes the provision of 24 hour emergency care, into full-time positions at border inspection posts.

“This would undermine the availability of veterinary services to the farming community and the public and would impact adversely on the ability of practices to deliver these services while undermining out of hours rotas for existing vets.”

He said it was important to ensure that any arrangements put in place in the context of border inspection post duties do not impact negatively on the availability and capacity of farmed animal veterinary services across the country.

If possible, he added, whatever solution is arrived at ought to support veterinary services.

Veterinary Ireland chief executive Finbarr Murphy said the existing temporary veterinary inspector model and agreement “would better meet the objectives of the Department and vets in practice”.

This model, which allows for the engagement of private veterinary practitioners on a part-time basis, would also “complement the provision of veterinary services to the farming community and the public”.

Veterinary Ireland called for the Department of Agriculture to enter into “immediate and meaningful discussions” on the most appropriate manner in which to meet the additional requirements that will arise in the context of Brexit.

Neither the Department of Agriculture nor the Irish Farmers’ Association returned requests for comment on Tuesday.

In February, the Department issued a tender for a €4 million contract to provide “border inspection post veterinary” services on the import of live animals and animal products after the UK leaves the EU.

Two months later, it emerged that a third of the State port veterinary inspectors to be recruited for Brexit had yet to be hired despite the UK having been just days from its then scheduled departure from the bloc.