IMPACT claimed yesterday that plans by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to close its Tallaght district veterinary office within the next six weeks will hit services to farmers in Co Dublin and east Wicklow.
The union, which represents departmental agricultural officers, said the closure plan could also compromise food safety services.
IMPACT said no discussions have been scheduled with representatives of the 20 staff who work at the centre, or with representatives of the many farmers who will be hit by the closure. It said the Tallaght office, which has overall responsibility for the certification of around 70% of Ireland’s live exports, provides services to farmers with 1,500 herds and around 110,000 cattle.
IMPACT said the office also provides crucial food safety services to border inspection posts in Dublin port and Dublin airport.
It was originally opened to bring services closer to farmers, and its location on the M50 is both cost effective and accessible for local service delivery.
IMPACT official Tom Hoare called on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Brendan Smith to reconsider the decision.
He said the staff were outraged at the possible damage to services, including food safety, and at management’s failure to properly consult with them as they are required to do under law and national agreements.
“Some of our members heard of this decision by phone, and the 20 staff have no idea what will happen to them if this goes ahead. We have sought a meeting with management, so far without success.
“We can only assume that the department wants to cover up its decision, which will remove a valuable and efficient service to the farmers of Dublin and east Wicklow, as well as valuable food safety checks at Ireland’s largest ports and airports.”
IMPACT said emergency agriculture department services at Dublin port, Dublin airport and smaller marinas and ports from Balbriggan to Arklow were managed from the Tallaght office during the foot and mouth disease scares in 2001 and 2007.
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