Veterinary Ireland gears up for post-Brexit challenges

Post-Brexit challenges in animal welfare and food security were the topics up for discussion at the Veterinary Ireland Annual Conference and AGM today, Friday November 23.

At the meeting, which was held in Lyrath, Kilkenny, Veterinary Ireland’s incoming president, David MacGuinness, spoke about his concerns surrounding the use of vets at Irish ports and airports after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

MacGuinness said that a recruitment drive for this purpose – which was announced by Leo Varadkar during the summer, but which doesn’t start until next year – would drain vets away from their traditional roles.

The future of Brexit is totally unpredictable at present.

MacGuinness argued that, if vets are required to monitor animal movements into Ireland, then the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine should use temporary veterinary inspectors (TVIs) to relieve the pressure on the profession.

He praised the work that is currently done by TVIs who work in meat plants throughout the country, saying: “The TVI inspection certified by veterinary surgeons provides important consumer assurances around animal welfare and food safety.”

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine stopped recruiting TVIs in 2012.

“This expert veterinary workforce could work in conjunction with private veterinary practices, reducing the potential drain of veterinary surgeons from important practice work throughout the regions to service the Brexit border checks for animal welfare.”

Simon Doherty, president of the British Veterinary Association, was also in attendance at the conference, and he said that cross border co-operation between the department here, and its Northern Irish equivalent, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, must continue.