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Coveney introduces new measures to safeguard Ireland's Horse Sector

Speaking on his first visit as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine at the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show in the RDS today, Simon Coveney TD said he was delighted to be associated with such a prestigious event in the equine sporting calendar in Ireland. The Minister said that the Horse Show was a huge event both nationally and internationally and was a major highlight on the international show jumping calendar. The event continues to attract significant numbers of visitors from home and abroad and gives a tremendous boost to tourism in Dublin.

"The value of the event, simply in terms of contribution to the horse sector and to Ireland's international reputation as a breeding ground for good horses is immeasurable. The Irish horse sector is of significant value to the economy. Current estimates show that the race horse thoroughbred industry is valued at €900m per year and the sport horse industry approximately €400m annually. I am pleased to see so many buyers from abroad at this year's show and want to congratulate the RDS for their efforts in showcasing our sport horse sector", the Minister said.

The Minister underlined the Government's commitment to maintaining and enhancing the international standing and reputation of the horse racing in Ireland, recognising its substantive contribution to the broader economy.

Recently the Minister signed into law enhanced rules governing equine identification, saying that the rules are aimed at improving horse welfare and disease control in Ireland. These new laws require horse owners to ensure that all horses have a passport and that foals be identified before 31st December of the year of birth or within six months of birth whatever date is the later. The new law is required to comply with EU legislation. The enhanced system for identifying horses has three elements, an equine passport, a microchip and the assignment of a unique equine life number to the equine in the database of the approved passport issuing organisation.

In addition, the Minister said that he will be shortly introducing further statutory powers which will require all keepers of horses in the country to register their location with the Department and to keep records that would enable tracing of horses in the event of a disease outbreak. "The premises register will assist my Department in developing more effective communication links with this industry. I hope to have the support and cooperation of everyone in the industry to improve the overall health and welfare of horses".

Finally, the Minister congratulated the Irish team for a strong performance so far at the Dublin Horse Show and wished them well in their efforts at regaining the Aga Khan Cup.

Note for Editors:

The European Communities (Equine) Regulations 2011 S.I. 357 of 2011 (to enforce European Commission Regulation (EC) No. 504/2008) on equine identification.

Date Released: 05 August 2011