Ireland is fast-tracking plans for a centralised equine database after the horse-meat contamination scandal that swept Europe.
The country also has plans to establish a single passport-issuing organisation.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said his department was pushing ahead with plans to establish a central equine database on the Animal Identification and Movement [AIM] system which contains data on cattle, sheep and pigs.
Coveney said facilities were put in place last weekend to receive and record equine animal registration details received from passport-issuing organisations.
Information on the central equine database will be used by the department’s veterinary staff to supplement the current checks at slaughterhouses.
He said he expected that there would be data for over 70 per cent of equines registered since 1 January 1980 on the database by last Tuesday.
Contacts will continue with passport-issuing organisations that have not provided data with a view to having all the relevant information on the central equine database at the earliest opportunity, he said.
Coveney also signalled his desire to see the establishment of a single passport-issuing organisation.
The European Union Commission has announced that it intended to submit proposals to the Agriculture Council of Ministers and the European Parliament to amend existing legislation to facilitate departments or other state agencies in taking over responsibility for issuing passports.
The department was awaiting those proposals, he said.
In the meantime, there will be no change in the status of the issuing groups.
Coveney said he intended to work with passport organisations to introduce a new system.
“I have acted swiftly, as I promised to do in the immediate aftermath of the equine DNA issue and will move to the final stage in the establishment of a single passport-issuing agency once EU legislation provides me with the overarching legal base to put this into effect.”
Currently, up to eight organisations can issue passports for horses. They include Horse Sport Ireland, Weatherbys on behalf of the thoroughbred sector, the Connemara Breeders Society and the Irish Piebald and Skewbald Society.