Revealed: New Department of Agriculture Regional Laboratory to service Carlow area

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Larry Keyes and John Robinson of Kilkenny ICMSA picketing at the Regional Veterinary Lab on the city's Hebron Road last year Photo: Pat Moore

A new regional laboratory, to replace the existing facility, is to be developed in Kilkenny, an investment which will further improve animal diagnostic services for the county, according to Junior Minister, John Paul Phelan.

The new facility is included as part of Project Ireland 2040, details of which were confirmed by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed. There is no date for the development and no concrete plans for the facility have been brought forward.

Welcoming the investment, Minister Phelan said: "This investment is needed in Kilkenny and it safeguards the service for the farmers of the surrounding hinterland into the future.

"It will help make the service more accessible to more farmers into the future.

"Ease of access to laboratory services is one of the key concerns of the farming community."

"On completion of this plan in 2028, 98% of registered herd owners will be within a one-hour drive of one of four regional laboratories or one of five carcase transfer centres that will be established in the border counties and along the Western seaboard," Minister Phelan said.

Minister Creed added: "Publication of this plan shows my Department’s commitment to achieving scientific excellence and to further developing capability and expertise across all laboratory areas.

"The second phase of laboratories development gives effect to our commitment to enhance the diagnostic services provided by our regional laboratories to the farming community and to make that service more accessible to farmers throughout the country."

The investment in the Regional Laboratory Network will progress in five incremental stages over the next decade, commencing with the establishment of a helpline and the first two carcase transfer centres before the end of 2020.

This will be followed sequentially by the replacement of existing facilities in Kilkenny and Sligo plus the establishment of enlarged laboratories in Cork and in Athlone.

Along with significant capital investments at each location¸ the Department will invest in teams of people with the skills and expertise needed to provide a world class diagnostic service - developing centres of excellence in the investigation of and surveillance for diseases in farmed animals.