Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Veterinary Inspection Service Data
451. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of operational veterinary inspectors; the number that will be operational on 29 March 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9101/19]
452. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of operational phytosanitary inspectors; the number that will be operational on 29 March 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9102/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 451 and 452 together.
My Department is participating very actively in the Whole-of-Government approach to preparedness and contingency planning for Brexit. The Government has already sanctioned in the region of €4m for the commencement of a phased process for the recruitment of additional staff across a range of skill sets to carry out increased volumes of import controls and export certification arising from Brexit.
These requirements are significant, and arise in relation to the carrying out of documentary, identity and physical checks on imports of animals, plants, and products of animal and plant origin, as set out in EU legislation.
In general, regarding staffing requirements, my Department will use a combination of options including recruitment, redeployment and temporary flexible solutions where appropriate and as necessary. My Department continues to work with our recruitment partners, the Public Appointments Service, to engage Veterinary Inspectors, Portal Inspectors, Plant Health Inspectors and Administrative support staff. Mechanisms to temporarily redeploy experienced people within my Department have also been initiated and the engagement of contracted temporary service arrangements is also being progressed.
The final staffing numbers to be engaged in response to Brexit contingencies will depend on the nature of Brexit and the trading relationship with the UK that ensues. Should a hard Brexit be confirmed as the probable contingency to be addressed, my Department will, through the mechanisms I have outlined, have the scope to deploy appropriate levels of Phytosanitary and Veterinary Inspectors as may be required. Overall, I remain confident that both the State and my Department will be in a position to deliver the services required in terms of both imports and exports at the appropriate time, be that at the end of March or any other point in the future.
The deployment options being used by the Department are intended to be as flexible as possible, taking the inherent unpredictability of the situation and the need to be prepared for multiple contingencies into account.
My Department will deploy in the region of 230 staff resources as part of its Brexit Response. This number will comprise new recruits, redeployed staff and people on temporary contracts.
Dublin Port will be staffed on a 24/7 basis. Rosslare ports will operate on the basis of two shifts per day, based on ferry activity.
All of these resource levels will be kept under review and will be adjusted in light of developments up to and post-29 March 2019.