The Bioethics Unit advises on a number of issues across various policy areas in my Department, including the protection of animals for scientific purposes. The Bioethics Unit has engaged with and will continue to engage with officials in my Department who have been assigned the task of transposing Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of such animals. Directive 2010/63/EU will be transposed into Irish law by the end of the year and the improved protections for animals set out in the Directive will take effect from 1 January 2013.
It should be noted that many of the provisions set out in Directive 2010/63/EU are Mandatory. The Directive strongly promotes the principles of the three Rs (replacement of the use of animals to the greatest extent possible with alternative testing methods, refinement of scientific procedures to improve animal welfare and reduction in numbers of animals used). The provisions of the new Directive also strengthen the protection of animals still needed for research and safety testing. Significant changes in this regard are requirements to perform ethical evaluations prior to authorisation of projects using animals and higher standards of care and accommodation.