There are no plans to close any of Department of Agriculture’s Regional Veterinary Laboratories, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney.

This is despite the establishment of a working group to review the best way to provide laboratory diagnostic services to farmers.

The Minster said as would be expected the working group are looking at a range of options on how best to do this and he said they will make their recommendations in due course.

However, as I have publicly stated previously, I do not intend to close any regional veterinary laboratories.

The Minister said the Department’s Strategic Review of its Laboratories is part of an Integrated Reform Delivery Plan agreed with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to consider the best means of delivering laboratory services to customers.

He said this review is considering all of the Department’s laboratories, including the central laboratory complex at Backweston and eight laboratories (including five Regional Veterinary Laboratories) located at other sites around the country.

The Working Group was convened, under an external chairman, Professor Alan Reilly, with the following Terms of Reference:

  1. To define the laboratory services and expertise that the Department requires at present and in the foreseeable future;
  2. To consider how these laboratory services and expertise can best be delivered; and
  3. To outline an implementation plan, including timescale, for proposed changes.

The first meeting of the Working Group took place on January 6, 2015.

The Minister said the working group is considering various proposals at present. A report from this group is expected in due course, he said.