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Minister launches new guidelines for best practice for the welfare of animals during transport

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today officially launched new guidelines for best practice for the welfare of animals during transport, produced by the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council (FAWAC).

The guidelines have been produced to encourage and assist all those involved in the transportation of live animals to adopt and maintain the highest standards of animal welfare prior to, during and post transport. The guidelines apply to the transport of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and equines.

Minister Coughlan thanked the chairman of FAWAC, Professor Patrick Fottrell, and the members of the Council for their work in producing the transport guidelines, which follow in a series of other publications relating to various other aspects of animal welfare.

The Minister also expressed her appreciation of the ongoing and very valuable work being done by the Council and for the advice provided. She said that there was an increasing awareness of animal welfare issues and reiterated the Government's commitment to deliver on several animal welfare-related commitments contained in the Programme for Government, notably the publication of comprehensive primary legislation, which will update existing animal welfare legislation to ensure that the welfare of animals is properly protected and that the penalties for offenders are increased significantly. The Minister confirmed that her Department would be engaging in a process of public consultation in advance of publication of the Bill and that all interested parties would be afforded an opportunity to contribute to the consultation process.

Minister Coughlan also referred to new regulations concerning the welfare of farmed animals which she signed into effect recently. The regulations - European Communities (Welfare of Farmed Animals) Regulations 2008 (SI No 14 of 2008) - came into effect on 1 February 2008 and give effect to a series of EU Commission and Council decisions concerning the welfare of a range of farmed animals, including laying hens, calves and pigs as well as animals being slaughtered.

The Minister described the new regulations as a further step forward in the protection of animal welfare and said that they consolidate the provisions of seven previous statutory instruments, dating back to 1995, into a single, accessible document.

Note for Editors

The Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council (FAWAC) was established by the Minister in February 2002. It is comprised of representatives from organisations with a variety of perspectives on animal welfare issues, including farming, welfare, veterinary organisations and relevant state agencies and recognising the all Ireland dimension to welfare, it includes also a representative from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARDNI), Northern Ireland. FAWAC provides a forum for these representatives to meet and discuss issues and developments relevant to the care of farm animals.

FAWAC is chaired by Professor Patrick Fottrell, former President of the National University of Ireland, Galway

Date Released: 20 February 2008