Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (671)

Noel Harrington


685 Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the State agencies and bodies within the remit of his Department that have the power to enter or search premises in the course of an investigation; if they need a search warrant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35308/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine)

There are Four State Bodies under the aegis of my Department which have the power to enter premises:

Sea Fisheries Protection Agency.

Veterinary Council of Ireland.

Horse Racing Ireland.

Bord na gCon.

Sections 17 and 17a of the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act 2006, as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 2007, set down the powers of Sea Fisheries Protection Officers of the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority to enter and search premises and set down the requirements in relation to search warrants.

The Veterinary Council of Ireland (which regulates the practice of veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing) has investigative functions as provided under the Veterinary Practice Act 2005. Currently authorised officers of the Council are required to obtain a search warrant in order to enter any premises, unless the agreement of the person concerned is forthcoming. However, the Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Bill 2011 which recently completed its passage through the Oireachtas includes an amendment to permit authorised officers to enter premises, other than a dwelling, without a search warrant, where it is necessary for the purposes of carrying out an investigation.

Section 51 of the Irish Horseracing Industry Act 1994 grants Authorised Officers of Horse Racing Ireland power to enter any "authorised racecourse, betting office or any other place or premises where there are reasonable grounds to believe the business of bookmaking is carried on". A warrant is not required and the officer is entitled to search for, inspect and take copies of books, accounts or other documents or records.

Authorised officers of Bord na gCon may, under the Greyhound Industry Act 1958, enter and inspect certain premises and take copies of documents.