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Minister Coveney Announces Funding to the Irish Equine Centre for a Demographic Study to Establish the Extent of Unwanted Horses

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD today announced funding of €10,000 to the Irish Equine Centre for a demographic study to determine the extent of the unwanted horse population in Ireland. The study, being undertaken by the Irish Equine Centre at the request of the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association who will co-fund the research along with Kildangan Stud, will examine a number of factors including capacity of equine sanctuaries operated by welfare groups, number of interventions by Local Authorities and usage of equine abattoirs.

The Minister said he was pleased to be in a position to assist in a practical way with funding for the study. He continued "The study is timely in that there has been media coverage at home and overseas recently, much of it unsubstantiated, regarding the fate of unwanted horses and this is unhelpful to the image of Ireland as a caring and horse producing society. This research undertaken will provide guidance for any further policy initiatives and or legislative measures that may be needed to further advance horse welfare".

A further dimension to the research will be to position the scope of the unwanted horse population in the wider context of the unwanted horse population of the EU and in so doing will establish a template for further studies in other EU countries.

Minister Coveney expressed his thanks to the equine industry for its work in protecting equines and their welfare. "There is a great tradition of horse care among Irish people and the vast majority of horse owners in Ireland continue to look after and provide for the welfare of their horses in a responsible way. My Department has a deep engagement with the equine sector through its responsibilities in areas such as animal health and welfare and animal breeding as well as the continual development of improved infrastructures for the equine sector generally and I want to deepen that role into the future".

The Minister committed his Department to an ongoing active engagement with all stakeholders involved with equines to ensure the continued protection of equine health and welfare.

Date Released: 26 May 2011