Hundreds of farmers from right across the North West are calling for the Regional Veterinary Lab in Doonally Sligo to be kept open.
At least 300 farmers from not only around the county but throughout the region from the north of Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan, Roscommon and Mayo attended today’s event.
It was organised to coincide with the visit of senior Department officials to the area including a meeting with the staff at the lab.
Farmers arrived with tractors and trailors and on minibuses from as far away as Malin Head to outline their opposition to any downgrading of the lab which was the first such lab outside of Dublin to be built in the 1960s ahead of Ireland joining the EU.
It provides a range of services including an overall disease diagnostic service as well as carrying out post-mortems on dead animals.
A recent report commissioned by the Department of Agriculture suggests that half of the country’s current labs should close to improve the overall service and Sligo is included in those recommended for closure.
This would leaving just Athlone, Backweston in Kildare and Cork in operation and it would mean a round trip of hundreds of kilometres for some farmers to get to Athlone especially for those from north Donegal and west Mayo.
This farmer from Donegal told Ocean FM News why he attended today’s event:
Earlier this afternoon senior department officials met with the county chairs of some of the local farming organisations including the IFA ahead of the meeting with staff.
Chair of the IFA in county Sligo JP Cowley was one of the farming reps to meet Department officials this morning.
He told Ocean FM News that he and his colleagues made a very strong case on the impact this move would have on the health of the national herd and he says they will take the protest to Dublin if they have to:
County Chair of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association in Sligo Gabriel Gilmartin attended this morning’s meetings and he says they plan to keep the pressure on to ensure this lab remains open:
Sligo farmer Vincent Roddy, National Chair of the Irish Natura and Hillfarmers Organisation told me at todays protest that it’s important to see the different farming organisations working together to secure the future of this lab: