Oral Questions – Agriculture – Trade Deal with Egypt and a Ban on Greyhound Exports to Macau

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Clare submitted questions to the Minister on his Department striking a trade deal for cattle exports with Egypt even as Ibrahim Halawa sits in an Egyptian prison, and asked him to impose a ban on the export of greyhounds to die in the Canidrome in Macau.

Parliamentary Question No. 31

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if consideration was given to or any mention made of the continuing imprisonment without trial of a person (details supplied) in an Egyptian Prison during the brokering of the Irish-Egyptian agreement to allow Ireland to begin exporting live cattle to Egypt, which concluded in February 2016; if any effort was made during negotiations to leverage the deal to secure the release of this person; and if he will now consider calling off the deal before the first live exports take place near the end of this year..

– Clare Daly.
For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 13th July, 2016.

Ref No: 21010/16 Lottery: 4 Proof: 36 Order: 26

Ibrahim Halawa

REPLY

The Minister for Agriculture, Food   and the Marine : (Michael Creed)

Questions relating to the release of the person referred to by the Deputy are a matter for the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. In t hs regard I understand that his Department, both in Dublin and cairo, is very actively engaged in seeking a resolution in this case, as is the Taoiseach himself. Minister Flanagan gave a comprehensive speech to the House last Thursday, 7 th July and I understand the Deputy also contributed to the debate that resulted in an all-party motion being agreed by this House. 
My Department has had no involvement in this consular case.

The Irish Government has not finalised a deal with the Egyptian Government for the sale of live cattle to Egypt. However, veterinary officials, from the Egyptian General Organisation for Veterinary Services conducted a technical visit to Ireland in February, to determine the suitability of Ireland’s animal health controls and agree a veterinary health certificate for the export of live cattle to Egypt.

The protection of farm incomes is a key plank of the Programme for a Partnership Government and in this context there is a specific commitment to prioritise and develop new live export opportunities to provide farmers with alternative outlets.

This is particularly important in light of the pressure on the incomes of the 100,000 farm families involved in the production of beef, the prospect of increased cattle numbers in the latter half of 2016 and the potential for this and other market factors to exert further downward pressure on farm incomes .

The outcome of the visit in question was the recognition by the Egyptian veterinary authorities of Ireland’s veterinary health certificate. This will allow Irish operators to export to Egypt, subject to the normal exigencies of the market place, and may provide a potentially valuable alternative market outlet to hard pressed farm families.

I would reiterate that questions in regards to this important and sensitive consular case are a matter for the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Parliamentary Question No.52

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question Number 56 of 8 June 2016 specifically that international trade takes place in a legally complex environment and that national legislation is not legally binding on activities in other states, to impose a ban on the export of greyhounds to China, given that it is not within the power of the Irish authorities to guarantee their welfare once they arrive there, and given reports of severe maltreatment of greyhounds in Macau..

– Clare Daly.

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 13th July, 2016.

Ref No: 21009/16 Lottery: 26 Proof: 58 Order: 47

REPLY

The Minister for Agriculture, Food   and the Marine : (Michael Creed)

The position as I outlined in my reply on 8 June remains unchanged. All exporters of dogs are required to provide animal health and welfare certification in respect of compliance with identification requirements, fitness for the intended journey, health status and rabies vaccination requirements. Once these animal certification requirements are met, dogs, including greyhounds, may be exported internationally. Exporters of animals are also required to comply with the provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No. 1 of 2005 on the protection of animals during transport.

While a very small number of greyhounds have been exported to Macau earlier this year, it is nevertheless imperative to ensure that the transport of greyhounds over long distances is conducted in a manner which safeguards the welfare of animals being transported and minimises the risk of transmitting infectious diseases. Bord na gCon, is responsible for the governance, regulation and development of the greyhound industry in the Republic as well as the well-being of greyhounds. The Bord has developed a comprehensive Code of Practice on the welfare of greyhounds which sets out specific standards that all individuals engaged in the care and management of registered greyhounds are expected to meet. The code emphasises that owners and keepers take full responsibility for the physical and social well-being of greyhounds in line with best welfare practice.

As mentioned in my reply of 8 June, oversight mechanisms in place regarding greyhound exports include inter-agency co-operation, co-operation with fellow members of the International Greyhound Forum and mechanisms relating to intelligence and information which is received from welfare officers during the course of investigations carried out under the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011. Where any breaches of welfare standards are identified under that Act, Bord na gCon takes stringent actions and prosecutions ensue in accordance with the Act.

Officials of my Department met on 23 rd May with representatives of Bord na gCon and the welfare members of the International Greyhound Forum – represented by the ISPCA and Dogs Trust here in Ireland – to consider the issues surrounding the export of greyhounds.  I met with representatives of the ISPCA on 29th June last and, on the specific issue of export of greyhounds to Macau, the ISPCA recalled the positive engagement of the Greyhound Forum on this issue.