Irish live animal exports come under intense scrutiny in EU

Fianna Fail MEP, Billy Kelleher, has said that the Irish industry for live animal exports is coming under intense scrutiny and pressure in the European Parliament.

Kelleher, a full member of the Committee of Inquiry into Animal Transport, was speaking after negotiations begun in the parliament to try to secure a compromise report, plus a set of recommendations. The report and recommendations are aimed at outlining how the industry should be reformed and improved, to bring it into line with Farm to Fork strategy ambitions for increased sustainability and higher standards in animal welfare.

MEP Billy Kelleher

Defending live animal exports

MEP Kelleher said: “As the sole Irish voice in these negotiations, and as a representative of an exporting island nation, I will defend the right of Irish exporters to transport animals, weaned and unweaned, to mainland Europe.”

The MEP admitted that the live animal export industry in Ireland will have to go even further in terms of improvements in technology in trucks and on boats; training for drivers and animal handlers; rest periods; and animal nutrition, if it is to stay viable. “Despite all the progressive, pro-animal welfare changes being put forward by political groups, there remains certain elements in the parliament who will simply never accept the need to transport animals,” Kelleher continued.

“They would happily end an industry and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people in Ireland.

“Their position is indefensible, given the reality of Ireland’s location relative to markets, and the immense efforts that have and can be made to ensure humane live-transports, where it is unavoidable.

“Of course, where meat, animal carcasses or genetic material can be transported, it can and should be,” he added.

However, the Ireland South MEP said that certain agricultural practices require the transport of animals from Ireland to mainland Europe by truck and by sea, as there is no alternative. “Having said all that, the status quo cannot be maintained. Change is coming, but I’m confident stakeholders in Ireland will meet that challenge head on, and continue to thrive, but they must be allowed to export to mainland Europe,” he continued.

“The next number of weeks will be crucial in terms of negotiations.

I will be fighting to protect the interests of Irish farmers and exporters and to promote the highest possible animal transport standards.

I firmly believe it’s possible to do both,” Kelleher concluded.

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