Thursday, 30 May 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
105. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of SPS and fisheries control officials that are operational out of the planned recruitment of 116 staff for SPS and fisheries controls as agreed on 18 September 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23159/19]
My Department continues to participate actively in the Whole-of-Government approach to preparedness and contingency planning for Brexit. The Government sanctioned in the region of €4m for the commencement of a phased process for the recruitment of additional staff 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. The Department had previously carried out an extensive analysis exercise, based on examination of trade and container movement data, to establish the potential volumes of controls that will need to be carried out. This exercise has been used to guide relevant planning in relation to putting in place the staff that will be required.
Regarding staffing requirements in the run up to potential Brexit deadlines in March and April, my Department sought to use a combination of recruitment, redeployment and temporary flexible solutions where appropriate and as necessary. My Department worked 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 were also initiated and the engagement of contracted temporary service arrangements was also progressed to address contingencies.
My Department has up to 230 staff resources available for deployment across a range of disciplines in both front line control and back up administrative spheres.
Overall, I remain confident that my Department is in a position to deliver the services required in terms of both imports and exports at the appropriate time.