‘Specifics of Irish situation must be understood on animal transport’

The first meeting of the European Parliament of Inquiry into Animal Transport is expected to take place on September 21.

Only one Irish MEP has been appointed to the committee – Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher, who represents the Ireland South constituency.

Speaking yesterday (Tuesday, September 8) after his appointment as a substitute member by the Renew Europe political group – of which Fianna Fáil is a member – Kelleher said: “As an island nation, we face significant challenges in transporting our animals to market on continental Europe.

These are challenges and constraints that do not affect the vast majority of other member states and their farming sectors.

“The differences and specificities of the Irish situation must be fully understood by other members of the committee if, and when, they seek to make recommendations,” Kelleher argued.

He continued: “My role [on the committee], as I see it, is not to seek exemptions that put animal welfare at risk or to lower standards, but to ensure that the particular nature of Irish animal transport is fully understood and that Irish farmers are not thrown by the wayside.

“As a dairy farmer myself, I know the challenges that farmers face getting animals to market but, as a farmer, I know the care that our farmers have for their animals,” the MEP added.

I will support any measures that improve the welfare of animals from the moment of their birth to their final journey to market. These two positions are reconcilable, and that is my role on this committee.

“As we in Europe pride ourselves on our high animal welfare standards we cannot tolerate any more accidents and incidents which place unnecessary stress and pain on animals,” Kelleher concluded.

McGuinness to get commissioner role

In other Irish movements in the EU, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced yesterday that she had selected Mairead McGuinness as commissioner-designate.

McGuinness was selected for the role following the resignation of Phil Hogan. She is set to take up the Financial Services, Financial Markets and Capital Markets portfolio in the commission.

There are some formalities to take place before McGuinness is officially confirmed as commissioner. She will have to go before a hearing in the European Parliament – as is standard practice for new commissioners – to examine her suitability for the role.