Fianna Fáil bye-election candidate for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward has called on the Government to give a cast iron guarantee to ensure the continued operation of the Regional Veterinary Laboratory at Leggetsrath in Kilkenny.
Mr Aylward made the call after it was confirmed by the Department of Agriculture that it has established a review panel to examine the operation and location of the Regional Veterinary Laboratories across Ireland.
Mr Aylward commented, “In the last week I have been contacted by a number of concerned workers at the Kilkenny regional veterinary laboratory. They have told me that the Department of Agriculture is set to recommend the closure of the lab. The news came as a complete shock to them as they were not consulted by the review panel established by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.
“The closure of the lab will come as a major blow to the agricultural sector not only in Kilkenny, but also across the wider southeast region. The lab has been operating for decades and employs a number of highly qualified veterinary specialists. It tests farm animals to identify and diagnose any potential disease or problem that livestock may have. The service it provides is invaluable to farmers who rely on the lab to help maintain a healthy livestock.
“The Government has not given a clear commitment to maintain the current services offered by the lab in Kilkenny. Cllr David Fitzgerald has tried to brush aside the concerns that farmers have. Speaking on national radio during the weekend Cllr Fitzgerald referred to its closure as only being a “rumour” despite a number of workers having come forward in confidence to say otherwise and the Department confirming that a review is underway .
“The farming community is still waiting for Cllr Fitzgerald to put on the record where he stands over the future of the lab and whether he supports its retention. I am calling on Cllr Fitzgerald to clarify the remarks he made on radio and state that the Government is fully committed to the continued operation of the lab.
“My position is clear. The veterinary lab in Kilkenny must remain in place. Its services cannot be allowed to be downgraded. I have been in contact with my Fianna Fáil colleagues in Kilkenny County Council and they will schedule a motion calling for the lab to remain in place” said Mr Aylward.