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Minister Couglan steps up measures to protect Irish Horse Industry

Speaking at the Dublin Horse Show today, the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., announced that she has stepped up measures to protect the Irish horse industry with stricter enforcement and inspection of passports and identification for horses to ensure compliance with the regulations.

Minister Coughlan said her Department officers will now have enhanced powers in the enforcement of the EU regulations on identification of horses. In addition, marts, sales yards and other premises where horses are assembled are required to ensure that horses entering their premises have valid passports. The Department's Inspectors will carry out random inspections to ensure compliance with these regulations by both horse owners and other operators in the country.

Minister Coughlan said "compliance with the new Regulations is essential for the protection of the country's equine population and industry, with the sport horse sector alone now worth in excess of €400 million and involving 53,000 people". The Minister reminded those present at the Show that it is just over a year since we experienced our first case of Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA) and of the threat that hung over the Horse Show last year. Minister Coughlan said that, of the many lessons learned, we now appreciate the necessity of having an effective identification system for horses. The Department will therefore be supporting new Regulations being drafted by the EU Commission to provide for a national database for horses in each Member State.

Minister Coughlan expressed her appreciation of the bloodstock industry and, particularly, the sports horse sector, for its co-operation and patience during the outbreak and said that the efficient and expeditious manner in which the outbreak had been contained and eradicated could not have been achieved but for the commitment of the Department and the industry working together for the benefit of all involved.

The Minister concluded by reminding horse owners, stud managers and others in the industry to remain vigilant and to continue to exercise the highest standards of biosecurity to minimise the prospects of any further outbreaks of the disease.

9 August, 2007

Date Released: 09 August 2007