Concern over impact of proposed closure of veterinary laboratory on Donegal farmers

Sligo laboratory could close under centralisation plan

By Staff Reporter

Reporter:

By Staff Reporter

Concern over impact of proposed closure of veterinary laboratory on Donegal farmers

A review of veterinary services by the Department of Agriculture and Food could see the regional veterinary laboratory in Sligo closed leaving farmers in the north west with a possible journey of hundreds of kilometres.

The proposals would see services centralised with the closure of  laboratories in Sligo, Kilkenny and  Limerick.

The laboratories provide a disease diagnostic service for the farming communities.

The closure of the Sligo facility at Doonally would mean farmers in north Donegal would have a round trip of almost 600 km to the laboratory in Athlone.

The Sligo laboratory services  farming communities in  Donegal Sligo, Leitrim Mayo Roscommon.

The review of the facilities would see the number of laboratories reduced to three - a headquarters in Celbridge in Co. Kildare and two more in Athlone  and Co Cork.

Although many samples could be sent by post to Athlone there are concerns in the farming community that such a proposed lorry collection service would pose serious risks in spreading diseases as lorries drive across the country collecting  dead and potentially seriously infected animal carcasses.

A protest at the planned closure of the regional veterinary laboratory at  Doonally has been planned for Wednesday.

Independent MEP Marian Harkin has described the proposed closure of the Sligo laboratory as as flying in the face of good animal health practice and being in contravention of recent government policies to stimulate development in rural areas.

“We have seen successive lip service plans to supposedly bring long overdue balanced regional development and the latest Ireland 2040 plan’s strategy is to ensure that ‘the enormous potential of the rural parts of our country are maximised’ ”, she said.

“The regional veterinary laboratory in Sligo has been a vital service for the farmers of the north west region in helping them to identify and remedy animal health problems which adversely affected their incomes”, she added.

“The Sligo laboratory also plays a significant role in helping to protect Ireland’s animal health status which is a major positive marketing tool in promoting the country’s food products on a worldwide basis,” the MEP said.