Any decisions on the future of regional veterinary laboratories, such as the one in Sligo, will take into account a cost/benefit analysis of options already put forward in a report by a working group.
That’s according to the Department of Agriculture, which says consultation has already started with veterinary laboratory staff throughout the country about the laboratories’ future.
The report was given to staff before Christmas.
Since then, there is renewed concern that the Sligo laboratory, at Dunally, might be closed.
In reponse to queries from Ocean FM News, the Department says its regional laboratories, including the one in Sligo, are an integral part of the department.
It says it is essential that the department develop a long-term strategy for its laboratories.
This was the main reason for a working group undertaking a comprehensive review of the laboratories.
That working group has now made recommendations on a number of issues, including oversight and coordination of laboratories’ activities.
The recommendations include options for the future development of the regional laboratories with a view to improving disease investigation and surveillance.
But the department insists the over-riding concern is maintaining — and improving — services to farmers.
There will also be a focus on staff grading structures, career development opportunities and workforce planning.
After consultations now taking place with staff, further consultations are then to take place with others affected.
However, Kevin Comiskey of the IFA in Leitrim has seen the report.
He says it makes clear the threat to Sligo and raises concerning proposals about possible replacement drop-of depots which he fears could lead to the spread of disease: