Irish MEP appointed full member of EU animal transport committee

An Irish MEP has been appointed a full member of the European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into Animal Transport (ANIT).

Billy Kelleher, a Fianna Fáil MEP for the Ireland South constituency, had originally been a substitute member of the committee when it was formed last year.

At a plenary session of the parliament this week, it was confirmed that Kelleher would take up a full position on the committee, which gives him a vote on the committee’s decisions. The new appointment takes effect immediately.

The issue of animal transport is incredibly important from both an animal welfare and an economic points of view.

Speaking after his appointment, Kelleher highlighted: “Every year, Irish farmers export nearly 300,000 live animals off the island to the EU and further afield, amounting to an economic boost of over €400 million.

The MEP stressed a “red line” for him on the committee was an “arbitrary maximum time limit” on animal travel, saying such a limit “could destroy the Irish live export sector”.

“As an island nation, and with potential administrative delays caused by Brexit, more and more of our animals will have to travel to Europa via longer sea routes. This must be taken into account by the European Commission when it puts forward its proposals,” he insisted.

Notwithstanding this, Kelleher underlined the need for “the highest animal welfare standards to be applied at all stages of the supply chain”.

“This is non-negotiable for me. I do believe the industry is ready and willing to increase its own standards,” he argued.

“Over the past number of weeks, I have been in discussions with farmers and hauliers and they recognise that they must do more to improve quality and standards. I am confident that they will rise to the challenge.”

Kelleher concluded by saying: “Over the next number of weeks and months, I am hopeful that I can represent the unique situation Ireland faces and ensure that more Irish voices are heard at committee level when deliberations take place.”