‘Case to be made for further investment in Regional Veterinary Lab structure’

There is a case to be made for further investment in Ireland’s Regional Veterinary Lab structure, Irish MEP, Mairead McGuinness has said.

Instead of cutting services, more investment may be called for across the system of regional laboratories, she said.

“These issues must be taken into account in the review, which cannot be about a cold cutting and closure of laboratories.”

Following a meeting in Sligo this week, the Midlands North West MEP said that retaining Sligo as a regional lab was particularly important.

Given the extensive area which the Sligo regional lab currently provides services to, and impending Brexit negotiations on the horizon which may have implications for animal health, animal movements and disease control, it is very important that this local lab is maintained.

McGuinness, a Member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee has welcomed the commitment of Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, that there will be no dilution of services to farmers in the review being undertaken of the state’s regional laboratories.

However, McGuinness said that this commitment must extend to ensuring that the “regional” nature of the vet labs be maintained, in order to deliver services to farmers as close as possible to where they farm.

“This requirement points to maintaining regional labs, rather than any move towards a centralised service removed from the regions,” she said.

Last week, the Minister for Agriculture assured farmers that there would be no dilution of the service to farmers from the review of the regional veterinary laboratories.

Speaking at last week’s Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) AGM, the Minister said that the labs provide a great service.

“I salute the people that work in them for both the industry and at farmgate level but also in terms of the work they do to underpin the quality, reliability, traceability and certification of everything we produce.

“It is only appropriate that we would then undertake, occasionally, a review of the level of service and say: Is this now fit for purpose?

“Is it structured in the optimal way? Is it efficient at what it does? If I give one guarantee to you, there will be no dilution of the service to farmers from the vet labs.”

But the Minister said that it is only right and proper that there would be a review.