The Competition Authority is to investigate a complaint from Clare TD Michael McNamara about Irish regulations that restrict the export of live cattle by boat.
McNamara had previously complained in the Dáil that the Irish regulations governing the transport of live animals posed an unnecessary barrier to trade in live animals and were contrary to EU free competition.
Deputy McNamara said that because of falling beef prices in Irish farming, he has complained to the European Commission and to the Competition Authority that the licensing of boats from Ireland servicing the live cattle trade is far stricter than those applying in other EU countries and that boats licensed in other EU member states could not operate in Ireland.
“I am very pleased that the Competition Authority will examine this situation. In the last Dáil session, I tabled a parliamentary question asking how many boats were licensed to take cattle to Libya and the Minister [ for Agriculture] very proudly told me that there were two boats and that Ireland operates the strictest regime in Europe for the live export of animals. I am all in favour of carrying live animals in the safest possible conditions but not using this as an excuse to close the Irish beef market to live exporters,” he said.
Continuing the Clare deputy said, “I find it hard to believe that states such as the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden do not take animal rights seriously and that we are the only state that does. I question why we make it so hard to send cattle outside the State and particularly to third countries such as those in North Africa when Bord Bia advises that there is a market there. The Irish Cattle Exporters Association has advised there is a market there but its members cannot get the boats.
“The Competition Authority has told me that they seek to address the type of issues that I have raised by bringing them to the attention of the authorities responsible for implementing the regulations to ascertain the justification for any restriction on trade which might result from the regulation.”