Roscommon-south Leitrim TD Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture in a parliamentary questions last week to clarify the current situation, and called for a reversal of some closures, Roscommon in particular, in view of the low computer literacy skills of many elderly farmers, he said.
In reply Minister Coveney said his department “has not made any decision to close down all public District Veterinary Offices”.
He outlined the restructuring of the local veterinary office network in Ireland, which reduced the number from 58 to 16 this year, and the centralisation of administrative support currently provided in the local offices into two offices, Cavan and Portlaoise.
“The decision to centralise the administrative support is based on a review by the department of the business processes and procedures and, in particular, the administrative support requirements, in its remaining local offices,” he said.
As a result there have been a number of significant changes this year to the procedures in relation to the implementation of controls of the TB eradication programme, he said. “These changes and, in particular, the decision not to take up passports from restricted herds and to abolish the movement permit requirement for clear cattle in restricted herds, combined with the eradication of Brucellosis and a substantial reduction in the incidence of TB in the country, has significantly reduced the administrative staffing requirement in the local offices,” the minister outlined.
A further review of centralisation of administrative staff is currently under way. “The administrative function of a number of local offices have been transferred including Clonakilty, Limerick and Tipperary. The transfer of the administrative functions out of other regional offices, including Roscommon, will be considered in light of the availability of opportunities to redeploy the staff concerned to support other critical public services,” he added.
The minister stressed department vets, inspectors and technical officers will remain in place at these offices to service clients across all of the schemes that are provided from its regional offices.