The Veterinary Council of Ireland has said that it is reviewing the provision of veterinary medicine education.
University College Dublin (UCD) is the only provider of veterinary medicine education on the island of Ireland.
Commenting on the uptake of veterinary courses by Irish students overseas, Peadar O'Scanaill, President of the Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) said: “Perhaps, there is time that we need a second college and perhaps, that’s definitely the case.”
Ó Scanaill made the comment in response to a query from Michael Fitzmaurice during the “analysis of the VCI consultation on corporate ownership of veterinary practices”.
“There’s many a person that might have 520-530 points that head off to some other country and have to become a vet through another door.” Deputy Fitzmaurice stressed.
“I would advise the VCI to look at this situation for the simple reason that there’s many a person that would be glad to handle those bigger animals.” he added.
“For ten years or more, it has been quite difficult to get vets to work in large animal practice, which is the tougher end of the game,” Ó Scanaill responded.
“It is very difficult to get vets to work in rural parts, even on the east coast, on the north-east coast and the centre of the country.” he added.
Commenting on the corporate ownership of veterinary practices, The Independent TD said: “The system we have in a lot of parts in the country, the vets and the service they give, is second to none.”
“You can get a vet in most parts of the country quicker than you can get a doctor if you were sick.”
“We are in danger at the moment that conglomerates are going to come into the country, mop them up and the farmer is the one that will pay the price and sadly, the animal is going to pay the price.”
“Can we not make sure that the person you pay is either an employee of a vet or a vet that owns it? We are going to see areas of this country that you’ll have to go 50-miles to get a vet.”
“If we keep going down the road that we are going down of conglomerates coming in, we will probably have one vet in the west of Ireland.”
Fitzmaurice asked if some form of action can be undertaken through the Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Committee, Government or through the VCI to ensure that the system “that has worked for so long is left”.
In response, Niamh Muldoon, CEO of VCI, said: “I don’t believe that it is sustainable for ownership to be restricted to profession – it isn’t the case in relation to medics, pharmacists and dentists.”
“I don’t think it is a wise provision in relation to veterinary.” Muldoon added.