I propose to take Questions Nos. 886, 907, 911, 912, 928 and 963 together.
The framework for addressing the Government’s policy of promoting the optimum level of animal welfare in Ireland is provided by the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013. The Act is a practical tool that provides modern framework for applying standards in the area of animal welfare. The Programme for Government contains a commitment to strengthen the Act and to enforce its provisions. The Act aims at a balance between the rights of an individual and the role of the State services to act for the public policy objective of ensuring the optimum level of animal welfare.
My Department keeps the Act under review given developments in the area of animal welfare and the law and having regard to the practical lessons learnt from operating the Act. Indeed, my Department is currently working on proposals to amend the Act to give effect to the commitment in the programme for Government for the ordered end to fur farming. This opportunity will also be used to bring forward any desired adjustments to the Act.
Neglect of or causing unnecessary suffering to animals is not acceptable in our society. I am committed to the policy that animal welfare standards are vigorously applied in a fair and even-handed manner. My Department continues to enforce the law in this important area as does An Garda Siochana, the Customs service, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. My Department works closely with these bodies and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all involved for their work in the field of animal welfare.
My Department dedicates a substantial level of resources and funding to animal welfare. This follows fro last year when the largest ever allocation of funding from my Department of €2.906m was made to 106 animal welfare bodies, a number of which undertake work with urban horses. The Programme for Government also contains a commitment to double the grant aid to animal welfare organisations over a two year period.
My Department operates a confidential animal welfare helpline through which members of the public can report incidents of animal cruelty or neglect for investigation.
The dedicated e-mail address and Helpline in place for reporting suspected cases of cruelty and neglect are:
Helpline Phone No: Call Save - 0761 064408, phone - 01 607 2379.
Email address - firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am committed to this policy of education and building awareness, financial support and the continued and vigorous application of the law relating to animal welfare.