Could Ireland’s Brexit preparations threaten rural veterinary practices?

The Government’s proposal to hire 1,000 new customs and veterinary inspectors as part of Ireland’s Brexit preparations could have implications for the availability of farmed animal veterinary services and rural veterinary practices.

News of the move emerged last week when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made an announcement following a Cabinet meeting in Co. Kerry.

Also Read: Brexit: 1,000 new veterinary and customs inspectors set to be hired

The Taoiseach outlined that these new customs and veterinary inspectors will be stationed at the country’s ports and airports.

While this move is “understandable“, it could pose threats to large animal veterinary practices in rural Ireland, according to the chief executive of Veterinary Ireland, Finbarr Murphy.

Speaking to AgriLand, Murphy said: “It’s hard to see how that will work; it could have an adverse impact on the availability of farmed animal veterinary services – as it would be drawing vets away for state work.

The move could threaten the availability of farmed animal veterinary services and the viability of some rural veterinary practices.

Continuing, the chief executive of Veterinary Ireland suggested that some of this work could be opened up to private veterinary practitioners in a similar way to how work is carried out in meat factories – where part-time temporary veterinary inspectors successfully assist official veterinarians.

Veterinary Ireland is open to discussions with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on how this could work, Murphy added.

He believes that this work could be used to “compliment practice work“, which is seasonal in nature.

“It is important that any state action does not undermine the availability of veterinary services to the farming community and the public,” Murphy said.

Possible strike action

Meanwhile, Murphy previously confirmed that there is no “immediate threat” of temporary veterinary inspectors (TVIs) going on strike at meat factories.

At the moment, both Veterinary Ireland and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine are at loggerheads over a “breach to the collective agreement” between both parties, Murphy added.

A mediation process – which is being managed by the former head of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Kieran Mulvey – is currently underway.

Continuing, Murphy said: “Veterinary Ireland has given a commitment not to escalate its action while the mediation process is ongoing.

So there is no immediate threat of strike action.

In a statement, the department outlined that it “has been in discussion for several months with Veterinary Ireland about a number of matters”.