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Minister Wallace pays tribute to the Irish Bloodstock Industry and the Veterinary Profession

Speaking at the Irish Equine Veterinary Conference in Killenard today, the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Wallace TD, acknowledged the contribution of the Irish bloodstock industry and vital role that equine veterinary practitioners play in 'maintaining the high health status of the Irish equine population.'

Minister Wallace described the bloodstock industry as one that 'makes a tremendous contribution to the profile, culture and economy of this country and which also has a well deserved global tradition and reputation.'The thoroughbred sector has been the main flag bearer for the industry over the years with Irish bred horses winning some of the world's most prestigious races, and Ireland was the world's third largest producer of thoroughbreds. The Minister added that the Irish sports horse had also flown the flag with great distinction and she predicted that the establishment of Horse Sport Ireland heralded an era of significant opportunity for this sector.

The Minister said that the reputation of the industry was underpinned by the health status of the horse population. In that regard, she described equine practitioners as being 'at the coalface' of animal health, and expressed her appreciation and that of her Department for the support provided by the industry and the veterinary profession during the 2006 outbreak of equine infectious anaemia. The Minister also paid tribute to the 'collaborative approach' taken by the bloodstock industry, the veterinary profession and her Department in tackling and successfully eradicating the disease outbreak.

Ms Wallace acknowledged increasing concern about the emergence of new disease threats facing the equine and other sectors for a variety of reasons, and the ongoing need for further measures to enhance animal, and equine welfare in particular. Minister Wallace said that her Department was committed to playing its part through the introduction of new and robust animal health and welfare legislation to meet the commitments in the Programme for Government.

Minister Wallace also paid tribute to the late Michael Osborne, whose memory was honoured by the inclusion of the inaugural Michael Osborne Lecture as a central part of the conference. Ms Wallace described Mr Osborne as 'a man who made an enormous contribution to the Irish bloodstock industry.'

16 November 2007

Date Released: 16 November 2007