216. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the measures taken to enforce laws regarding animal welfare; the number of prosecutions relating to abuses of animals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15063/19]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I must inform the Deputy that information regarding the number of prosecutions for abuses of animals is not held by my Department.  Under Irish law, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) operates independently of me and my Department, and decides whether or not someone should be prosecuted for a crime, following a Garda investigation.
As the Deputy is aware, the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 provides a modern and robust framework for dealing with issues relating to animal welfare. It also updated and replaced approximately 40 items of primary legislation in the area of animal welfare and health dating back over 100 years.   
I am advised that An Garda Síochána liaises and works closely with both Local Authorities and the local offices of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. All complaints of cruelty to animals made to An Garda Síochána are subject to investigation, with an Investigation File submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who will then decide if a prosecution should take place, and for what offence.
I can also advise the Deputy that since the commencement of the new Bachelor of Arts Degree Programme in Applied Policing Training in September 2014, modules on the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 and the Control of Horses Act 1996, are provided to Trainee/Probationer Gardaí, both while at the Garda College and during Phase 2 while assigned to their designated training Garda Stations across the country. The relevant legislation is also available to all Garda staff on the internal Garda Portal. The legislation is discussed and, when available, expert, external, speakers address the Trainee / probationers.
I understand that these Acts are also on the syllabi for the promotion examinations to the ranks of both Sergeants and the Inspectors.