Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Sheep Populations.

22.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries the reasons for the decline of the sheep population in the Republic during the 1960's, with special reference to 1967, 1968 and 1969.

The decline of sheep numbers in recent years has occurred mostly in the lowlands, and appears to have been mainly due to competition from alternative and more remunerative types of farming such as dairying, cereals and beef production.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary not agree that the Government should give a subsidy for the export of carcase mutton and lamb to markets other than English markets in order to arrest this decline?

I am sure this matter will be considered.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary communicate with me on the problem?

Certainly.

(Cavan): Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that a probable cause for the decline in the number of sheep is due to losses sustained by farmers as a result of attacks on their flocks by marauding dogs? Will the Parliamentary Secretary see that the Minister and his colleagues do everything possible to have these losses, which are driving some farmers out of sheep, reduced to a minimum?

The Minister is aware of the damage caused by dogs and this situation is under consideration.

(Cavan): It is a very serious situation.

In view of the fact that there has been a drop of over one million in sheep numbers in the past six or seven years, would the Parliamentary Secretary not think that in preparation for our entry into the EEC, discussions should be immediately started between the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and the different farmers' organisations in order to encourage an increase in the number of sheep in this country, especially as there is a shortage of meat in some EEC countries?

This matter has been the subject of discussion between the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and the farmers' organisations.

These discussions have been a failure up to the present in view of the fact that sheep numbers have dropped by more than one million in the last six or seven years.

Certain schemes have been introduced to encourage the production of mountain sheep especially.

Only to encourage mountain sheep. If the schemes you have introduced have failed——

You are like a lamb being led to the slaughter.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary not think that new schemes should be initiated which might prove more successful in the future?

You are trying to pull the wool over our eyes——

Order. I am calling Question No. 23.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary satisfied that if the Control of Dogs Act was properly enforced these marauding dogs would be controlled and less damage done to sheep?

This is a very good point.

Is there any possibility that the Minister for Justice will ensure the Control of Dogs Act is enforced?

I will bring it to the notice of the Minister.

(Cavan): I have already brought it to the notice of the Minister for Justice and the Garda Síochána.