Written answers

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Department of Agriculture, Marine and Food

Horse Racing Industry

9:00 pm

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Question 582: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will outline the responsibility of the State in relation to horses in training in the horse racing industry; if he has jurisdiction in this area even though there may be no specific legislation on the matter; if his attention has been drawn to the issues highlighted by a person (details supplied) whose horses suffered and died and others had to be withdrawn for their own protection from the racing industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9757/12]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Minister, Department of Agriculture, the Marine and Food; Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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I am aware of the issues raised by the person to whom the Deputy refers. There has been extensive contact between the individual concerned and officials from my Department. I have also written to this individual and I have explained to him the extent of my Departments responsibilities with regard to the welfare of horses in training and the options open to him should he wish to further progress the matters he complains of.

I have clarified that my Department has no role, or jurisdiction, in resolving the issues referred to and that it is for him to decide if he wishes to report these matters to the Gardaí or indeed if he wishes to institute civil proceedings. My officials have set out the Department’s position in this matter both verbally and in writing by way of direct contact with the individual and also in responses issued to earlier representations made on his behalf. It is my understanding that this person has submitted complaints to various regulatory bodies, that his complaints have been investigated and the outcome of those investigations have been made known to the complainant.

My Department’s responsibility, which is set down in legislation, extends to the welfare and protection of farmed animals only i.e. animals normally bred or kept for the production of food or for use in or for the purpose of farming. The relevant legislation in this area is the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes Act 1984 and the European Communities (Welfare of Farmed Animals) Regulations 2010, SI 311 of 2010. Animals “used in competitions/shows, cultural or sporting events or activities while so being used” are outside the scope of SI 311 of 2010. Accordingly it is clear that the complaints forwarded by the named individual to my Department are not covered by this legislation and thus fall outside the remit of the Department and the Department must operate at all times in accordance with legislation.

The principal statutes governing cruelty to all animals including race horses, in this country is the Protection of Animals Act 1911 and the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act, 1965. Responsibility for enforcing this legislation rests with An Garda Síochána who may, on receipt of a complaint, investigate and bring a prosecution against any person alleged to have committed an offence under these Acts. It should be noted that the Programme for Government 2011 contains a commitment to strengthen legislation relating to the welfare of all animals. The main vehicle to fulfil this commitment will be the Animal Health and Welfare Bill which I intend to publish as soon as possible.

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