I appreciate the Deputy's ongoing interest in this issue. Ireland has a strong reputation for the quality of its horses and the quality of its horsemanship. The current EU rules on the movement of horses between EU member states require that the animals being moved are inspected by an official veterinarian and accompanied by a veterinary health certificate issued under the EU TRACES system and that a horse passport is issued by an approved horse passport issuing body.
However, these rules also allow member states that have implemented alternative but equivalent health control systems in their respective territories to grant one another derogations from the standard movement rules. The derogation provided for under Community rules on the movement of horses is applicable to movements between EU member states only. It is not inclusive of movements between the EU and third countries.
Currently, Ireland is part of a tripartite agreement with the UK and France that allows for the movement and trade of horses between the three countries without undergoing veterinary inspections and without health certificates. As the agreement is based on EU legislation on the movement of horses within the EU, the UK cannot be part of the agreement once it becomes a third country.
The current focus of our no-deal contingency planning is on the arrangements that will be necessary for the Department to fulfil its legal obligations with respect to import controls on live animals and agrifood products as efficiently as possible while also ensuring the minimum possible disruption to trading arrangements. As part of this planning we are upgrading existing border inspection posts and developing additional border inspection posts to cater for the increased volume of inspections necessary, including in respect of equines being imported from the UK, and making arrangements to facilitate the certification of horses to the UK as necessary.