Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Questions (235)

Charlie McConalogue


235. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when his attention was first drawn to lairage capacity issues at Cherbourg port in 2018; when he first raised same with his ministerial colleagues and industry representatives; when he first discussed with the French authorities the need to increase lairage facilities at Cherbourg to increase live calf exports; and the number of meetings on this issue in 2018 and to date in 2019 with live exporter companies. [12476/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I called a meeting with livestock exporters on the issue of exports, which included lairage capacity at Cherbourg, in July 2018. In September 2018, officials of my Department visited Cherbourg to discuss this matter with their French counterparts, and with the owners of the two Cherbourg lairages. My officials also provided a briefing to the IFA before its visit to Cherbourg earlier this year on this matter.

In January, officials of my Department attended the annual meeting between livestock exporters, Bord Bia and my Department, where the lairage issue was again discussed. In February departmental officials met with the IFA and officials of the French Embassy in Dublin that focussed on this issue. I met with Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in February, and raised the issue of lairage capacity with him. I held a further meeting with live exporters earlier this month.

I welcome the approval this week by the French authorities of an increase in the holding capacity of one of the lairages at Cherbourg. Based on current ferry sailing schedules, the additional daily capacity for 400 animals provides increased capacity of some 1,200 animals per week. I would like to acknowledge the co-operation of the French authorities, who, understanding the importance of this route for Irish exports, have moved quickly to approve the facility.