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Minister Coveney welcomes passage of the Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Bill 2011 through Oireachtas

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today announced that the Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Bill has completed its passage through the Oireachtas.

Minister Coveney stated "I welcome the positive approach which was adopted by Deputies and Senators during the legislative process and that there was general recognition from all quarters of the desirability of bringing full legal clarity to the situation of certain service providers in the veterinary sector.  The position is that persons with appropriate skills and training have traditionally looked after various aspects of the health and welfare needs of their animals, without difficulty, and it is important that there would be no legal doubt about their ability to continue to do so.  The procedures in question, such as bovine hoof trimming, farriery or scanning of cattle and sheep, are important from the point of view of maintaining animals' well-being and should continue to be carried out under a least cost option by persons with the necessary skills and training".

The Minister emphasised that "We need to drive and keep down farming costs in the interests of competitiveness and growing the industry, but, of course, in a manner which is consistent with ensuring that animal health and welfare are not compromised. It was never intended that the Veterinary Practice Act 2005, which brought regulation of the veterinary profession up to date, would unduly restrict the ability of skilled persons such as farriers or farm-relief personnel, to attend to the on-going and routine needs of animals.  We also need to make provision for developing areas of expertise, such as physiotherapy and equine dentistry".

The Minister also welcomed the co-operation he had received in both Houses to a number of refinements to the Bill he had proposed during its progress through the Oireachtas, including some specific amendments to facilitate the further development of the veterinary nursing profession in tandem with the veterinary profession itself.  "As a result of the process, we now have in place better and clearer legislation governing these professions".

The Minister closed by stating that his Department has already embarked on the consultative process with a view to bringing forward secondary legislation to give practical effect to the exemptions provided for in the Bill.

Date Released: 11 July 2012