Chief medical officer (CMO) Tony Holohan is no longer seeking a cull of the country’s farmed mink due to COVID-19 concerns, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said.
In response to a question from Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy TD this week, the Minister said that despite the CMO no longer seeking a cull, mink farming is set to be banned in Ireland later this year.
“The chief medical officer had indicated his concern and request that the mink would be culled given the Danish strain in relation to COVID-19 back before Christmas.
“I had established as Minister it would require new primary legislation in order for that to be carried out.
“I met with the mink farmers at that stage to indicate the request I had received from the chief medical officer and our intention to pursue that,” he said.
In the interim period, Minister McConalogue said there was ongoing testing of both mink and staff at the mink farms to protect against the risk of the strain spreading or it becoming a risk.
“Since then, the CMO indicated that he is no longer concerned in relation to the risk that mink pose and he’s no longer seeking the culling of mink from a COVID-19 risk point of view.
“Nonetheless, there is a clear commitment in the programme for government that we would phase out mink farming, so I am proceeding on the basis that we are finishing and looking to close out mink farming in the country.
“I will be coming forward shortly with primary legislation that will proceed with a cull,” he said.
There are currently three mink farms in Ireland - one each in Donegal, Laois and Kerry - where some 120,000 mink are farmed.