I propose to take Questions Nos. 486 to 488, inclusive, together.
The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 was enacted, after lengthy and constructive debate in both Houses of the Oireachtas and came into operation on 6 March 2014.
The Act provides for prosecution of offences in the District Court by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, local authorities and members of An Garda Síochána. Matters tried on indictment are the remit of the Director of Public Prosecutions in the normal manner.
The provisions of the Act are enforced by Authorised Officers of my Department, An Garda Síochána, officers of Customs and Excise and authorised officers of ISPCA, DSPCA, Irish Greyhound Board and the Turf Club. These officers investigate matters relating to animal cruelty and neglect and, where the evidence supports such action, it is my policy that a file is prepared and the matter pursued through the Courts.
Since the inception of the Act, my Department has initiated 67 prosecutions that resulted in 65 convictions. Two individuals died before trial. There are currently two appeals pending before the Circuit Court. The probation Act was applied in 5 instances. Fines totalling in excess of €50,000 have been imposed and 1 person, who has appealed the sentence, was sentenced to a term of imprisonment; a further 3 individuals have received suspended sentences. Disqualification orders under section 58 of the Act have been imposed on 8 persons.
A further 11 files have been sent to the Chief State Solicitor with a view to instituting proceedings while summonses have issued in 16 cases which remain before the Courts.
The Act also provides for Animal Health and Welfare Notices to be issued by authorised officers. This means that minor situations can be addressed at an early stage and that encouragement, guidance and best practice are introduced rather than just punishment. It also provides for Fixed Penalty Notices to be issued in minor cases and allows authorised officers to seize and re-home animals where the owner is no longer able to care for his/her animals.
It has not been possible to collate the information sought regarding notices in the time allowed, however my Department will provide further detail directly to the Deputy in due course.
Actions taken by An Garda Síochána and Customs and Excise are a matter for those bodies.