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Question

5. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of times An Garda Síochána invoked the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 and the Control of Horses Act 1996 when dealing with reports of animal neglect or cruelty; and if he will request that information regarding powers under the Acts are part of Garda training in Templemore. [49787/18]

Answer

Deputy Charles Flanagan: I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. She has long been a voice against cruelty and neglect and has debated the subject on a number of occasions in the House and at committee. It is also appropriate that I pay tribute to the important role played by animal welfare charities such as the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ISPCA, and the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, DSPCA, who are at the forefront of animal welfare in Ireland.
While the particular Acts highlighted by the Deputy fall under the auspices of my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, I have made inquiries with the Garda authorities to see how many times these Acts have been invoked by gardaí in the course of their duties and I am advised that the specific information requested by her is not recorded on PULSE.
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 back going back more than 100 years.
The Deputy will also be aware that the Control of Horses Act 1996 provides powers to local authorities to deal with stray and abandoned horses and for the designation by each local authority, by way of by-laws, of areas in which horses cannot be kept without a licence. Members of An Garda Síochána have also been assigned powers commensurate with those of authorised officers under the legislation.
In this context, I am informed that An Garda Síochána liaises and works closely with both local authorities and the local offices of the ISPCA. All complaints of cruelty to animals made to An Garda Síochána are subject to investigation, with an investigation file submitted to the DPP who will then decide if a prosecution should take place, and for what offence.