The process whereby I have the power under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 to authorise members of other organisations is one that was debated in detail during the passage of that legislation through the Oireachtas. Many deputies had concerns about possible biases in such organisations, in particular animal welfare organisations. In response to this the legislation was drafted in such a way as to ensure there is adequate probity and oversight of the process by my Department. In particular prosecutions can only be taken through my Department.
Since commencement of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 the system authorising officers from outside my Department has worked well. All those who have been authorised have had their fitness and ability to operate examined. Authorisation has been done only where my Department has been given credible evidence about the relevant experience, training and bona fides of the proposed officers.
In addition to the authorised officers from the ISPCA and DSPCA I have recently appointed two officers of Bord na gCon to give assistance to my Department in the area of welfare.
The Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 also gives powers to both Local Authorities, to the Coursing club and to Bord na gCon to appoint Welfare Officers. This system is also seen to be working well.