Licenced agriculture merchants are “at a loss to understand” why the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has yet to provide any response to “substantive legal evidence” on the issue of a derogation on the prescribing of certain veterinary medicines.

The legal evidence was submitted submitted by the Independent Licensed Merchants Association (ILMA) on the matter, according to independent TD Carol Nolan.

Commenting on the matter this week, deputy Nolan claimed that it is now well over three months since the ILMA submitted the evidence which the association claims provides “strong legal grounds” for its request.

The Laois-Offaly TD said: “The department has already acknowledged to the European Commission that at least €65 million of the €180 million Irish market in veterinary medicines is provided through non-veterinary outlets and that the vast majority of these are through Responsible Persons operating in licensed agri-merchants premises.

It is this vital rural sector that is being directly threatened by the failure to provide a derogation. Yet, here we are several months after substantive legal advice has been submitted and the department has not only failed to respond – but it has also failed to share the legal guidance it says it has from its own internal legal advisors.

Continuing, deputy Nolan noted that the department had made a commitment to the Oireachtas Joint Agriculture Committee meeting on February 8, that it would provide the attorney general’s advice if and when it received it.

“But again, here we are over a month later and there is no sign of that advice being shared. My own request for the advice through a PQ [parliamentary question] was denied,” the TD added.

Questioning where the urgency is on the matter, she added:

Where is the sense that the department wants to work collaboratively with the agri merchants, beyond the rhetoric of ‘stakeholder engagement’?

“We need an immediate resolution to this issue and one that protects this incredibly important sector for rural Ireland and the employment it serves to create,” concluded deputy Nolan.