My Department undertook two public consultations with regard to the Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. The first consultation took place in July 2009 following the publication of the proposed Directive in November 2008. Responses to that public consultation informed Ireland's position in the subsequent negotiations at EU level. The second public consultation took place in October 2011 following the adoption by the European Parliament and the Council of Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. Responses to this second public consultation are informing my Department's ongoing work on the transposition of the Directive into Irish law. This task must be completed by November of this year.
Directive 2010/63/EU strengthens 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. The Directive also 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). Many of the provisions are mandatory.
I appreciate the time and effort devoted by individuals and organisations in their response to both public consultations. The submissions received in response to the first consultation were particularly welcome as the Directive was still under discussion at that stage. The second public consultation, of necessity, had a different focus given that the Directive was already finalised at that stage and most of its provisions are mandatory. The responses to the second public consultation are, consequently, primarily focused on the nuts and bolts of the transposition process itself and are of particular assistance to the Department in this regard.