I propose to take Questions Nos. 513 and 518 together.
Applications for the approval of ships for the carriage of cattle by sea are processed expeditiously by my Department in accordance with the Diseases of Animals (Carriage of Cattle by Sea) Orders, 1996 and 1998. There are no delays occurring in the approval stage and approvals are issued once all provisions of the legislation are met. The markets outside of the EU currently open to live cattle from Ireland are Egypt, the Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya.
The live export trade provides alternative market outlets for certain categories of livestock, thereby serving a market demand and providing increased competition in the market place for cattle. I am always keen that Irish meat and livestock producers can access as many global markets as possible and, to that end, my Department seeks to ensure market access for Irish produce through all available channels, including the diplomatic service. Responsibility for exploiting market outlets following market access is a commercial matter for the live export sector.