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Reilly welcomes Animal Welfare Bill but says farmers’ rights must be protected by Special Investigations Unit

3 May, 2012

Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly has said that she welcomes the new Animal Welfare Bill which was discussed in the Seanad today.

Speaking in the Seanad today Senator Reilly said:

“Sinn Fein welcomes this Bill. It is of great importance to our economy and in particular to our rural way of life which has taken some severe hits in these times of austerity. Improvements in technology, communications and animal welfare science mean this overhaul is more than due.

“However, it is important that there is not too great a level of bureaucracy placed on farmers. It is in the interests of both the farmer and the state that health and welfare of animals are catered for. A genuine, mutually respectful relationship must be established and maintained between the state, its agents and farmers on the ground.

“There are also concerns over the powers that are to be granted to authorised officers to search premises and gather information without a warrant. The constitutional rights of farmers and animal owners should not be breached. In addressing this Bill I feel I must point out that there is widespread concern at the manner in which the Department’s Special Investigations Unit has carried out some of its work, indicating that in a range of cases it has abused the very extensive powers given to it under legislation

“I believe we need stronger safeguards for the rights of citizens, including an avenue of appeal other than the courts.”

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