Gormley and rural TDs ‘in agreement’ on amendments

THE Government has moved to clear up confusion caused by Environment Minister John Gormley’s definition of the controversial dog breeding amendments.

Mr Gormley will today outline how his vision for improving the dog breeding sector has been reconciled with the powerful rural lobby pressing on Fianna Fáil backbenchers.

And, despite a threatened defection from independent deputy Michael Lowry, a spokesman for Mr Gormley said both the Green Party and the rural TDs are on the same wavelength. “This is now resolved. Proper welfare standards for all dogs are being established. And key concerns of the parties involved are being addressed.”

The clarification came after a bizarre clash between Mr Gormley and Mr Lowry, who had claimed responsibility for securing changes to the bill to protect greyhounds, while Mr Gormley asserted on morning radio that greyhounds would not be treated differently.

The dispute arose over the interpretation of the measures proposed to include greyhounds under the new dog welfare law.

Mr Gormley has remained adamant that greyhounds cannot be excluded from the regulations. However, they will be left out of the bill when it is reintroduced in the Dáil today.

The Government will instead amend the 1958 greyhound industry act and drop in the same welfare regulations as are in the dog breeding establishments bill.

A critical issue will be the timing of the amended bill, which will have to be introduced before the order bringing the dog breeding law into effect.

The Green Party claims it is satisfied with this proposal as it was recognised that it will take time to finalise the regulations.

The confusion came as Mr Gormley came under renewed fire from the US firm hoping to build a waste incinerator at Poolbeg.

American ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney, rowed in with incinerator operators Covanta, which has accused Mr Gormley of delaying the project and putting 600 jobs at risk.

The company has looked for Mr Gormley to approve a foreshore licence. The minister’s spokesman said he will meet with Mr Rooney to discuss the issue but that it was not straightforward.

The spokesman said it had to be treated as if a court was assessing the case and there was a backlog of 700 cases arising from the switch in foreshore licensing duties from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of the Environment.

Covanta’s foreshore application would be treated the same as any other, he said.


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