Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dog Licences.

10.

asked the Minister for Finance if with a view to restricting the number of unlicensed and unwanted dogs he will consider increasing the licence feel of female dogs with a corresponding reduction of the licences for other dogs.

I would not favour the introduction of a higher licence duty for female dogs.

The Minister, having been Minister for Agriculture, will appreciate that there is developing in the country a very serious problem of the savaging of sheep by dogs for which there is no responsible ownership. The existence of that dog population depends very largely on the keeping of female dogs by people who do not have due regard to the necessity of controlling their dogs. Would the Minister not think it reasonable to increase, for the future, the licensing fee for a female dog and, if necessary, to reduce the fee for a male dog to a minimal figure? This would maintain the ordinary balance and would materially contribute to the solution of an undeniably difficult problem which the Minister himself was confronted with when he was Minister for Agriculture.

I recognise that there is a problem and indeed I recall that, when I was Minister for Agriculture, I introduced the legal obligation that all dogs must have identification discs. But my advice is that the Deputy's approach to the problem is unlikely to be successful. There were some suggestions from those who examined it that it might, in fact, lead to an increase in the number of unwanted and unlicensed female dogs. Apart from that, it would require legislation and the Garda are convinced that the enforcement of a provision of this sort would be very difficult, so difficult as to make it an impractical proposition.

Has the Minister consulted the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries in this regard?

Yes. I want to assure the Deputy that this is a matter which is under continuing review in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. They are very much alive to the problem and indeed are very worried about it. It is one of these perennial problems that seem to defy any reasonably practical solution, very like the problem of wandering horses in suburban areas.

I offered a contribution which I thought might be of help to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries.

Is this problem not largely due to the fact that there has been a complete failure to enforce the identification disc obligation, that that measure has fallen down?

I would not accept that.

Nobody is bothering his head about enforcing the identification discs measure.

There are 4,000 prosecutions a year.

I am amazed to hear that.

That is for unlicensed dogs, not for not carrying discs.