The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine will begin a “detailed scrutiny” of the Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Bill 2021 today (Tuesday, September 28).

The committee will meet at 3:30p.m today and the committee chairperson, Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill, will address his colleagues as the sponsor of the private members’ bill.

He will be accompanied by representatives from Veterinary Ireland. The meeting will be broadcast from Committee Room 3 of Leinster House.

The purpose of the bill is to amend the Veterinary Practice Act 2005 in order to make statutory provision to prohibit ownership of veterinary practices by persons other than a veterinary practitioner – in this bill referred to as ‘eligible veterinary practitioners’.

The Veterinary Practice Act 2005 currently allows ownership of veterinary practices by persons other than veterinary practitioners.

Speaking in advance of the meeting Cahill said: “The committee and I are glad to get the opportunity to debate the Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Bill 2021.

“This ensures that veterinary practices can only be in the ownership of licensed vets, thus preventing private corporations from having undue control of the sector,” the Tipperary TD added.

“It is crucial that the Veterinary Council of Ireland [VCI] be able to regulate practices and to do this, practices need to be owned by licenced veterinarians.”

Cahill went on: “A clear professional path for young veterinarians is needed so that they can see the financial prospects. The influx of private corporate practices in the sector may damage it.

“Looking at other countries where this has happened, it is clear that it has damaged the viability of the profession, the sector, and the welfare of animals,” he argued.

The committee can be viewed online here when it begins.

The committee includes nine TDs and five senators.

The nine TDs are Martin Browne (Sinn Féin); Jackie Cahill (Fianna Fáil); Matt Carthy (Sinn Féin); Michael Collins (independent); Michael Fitzmaurice (independent); Joe Flaherty; (Fianna Fáil); Paul Kehoe (Fine Gael); Brian Leddin (Green Party); and Michael Ring (Fine Gael).

The five senators are Victor Boyhan (independent); Lynn Boylan (Sinn Féin); Paul Daly (Fianna Fáil); Tim Lombard (Fine Gael); and Denis O’Donovan (Fianna Fáil).