True or False: “Irish government is infinitely more generous towards animal welfare groups than UK government”

The answer, which will surprise many people, is TRUE. This should be headline news, and it’s disappointing that this remarkable generosity goes completely under the radar of mainstream media coverage.

What do the government do?

Last Friday, the Minister of Agriculture, Simon Coveney, announced the latest round of funding to animal welfare groups around Ireland: €1,867,200 has been given to 142 organisations involved in delivering animal welfare services throughout the country. The UK human population is around twenty times bigger, so this would translate to around €37 million or £29 million if it was done on a per capita basis.

Do you know how much the UK government give to support animal welfare groups in the UK? £0. Yes, that’s right. Nil.

So for all the criticism that’s (often rightly) given to the Irish government, this is one area where a round of applause is deserved. If you look closely at the 142 organisations that are helped, you’ll see that these are staffed by hard working, dedicated individuals who are genuinely helping animals. Without this government support, they would not be able to help nearly as many animals. This ex gratia funding has been provided annually since 1995 to organisations involved in the delivery of animal care and welfare services, particularly to companion animals. Funding is limited and is intended only as a contribution to the overall costs of the organisation.

It is a credit to the various political parties that have been in power since that date that this funding has not been subject to the dramatic cuts that have been applied to other areas of government spending in these economically challenging times. In fact, the funding has been increased from €1.2 million in 2009 to the current figure of just under €1.9 million, an increase of 58% at a time when many budgets elsewhere have been slashed. Minister Coveney deserves a big thank-you for helping Irish animals with this generosity.

Funding of Animal Charities

The money is not given out easily or without question: animal welfare groups have to fill in a detailed application form, and they are subject to inspection by local veterinary officers to ensure that they comply with a code of practice that ensures that animal welfare is being genuinely supported and upheld.

You can read the full listing of grants for yourself by clicking here, but I have listed some of the groups that I noticed when glancing down the list.

  • ISPCA
    Is given €210000 – as the national umbrella group, with a team of six inspectors, trying to cope with animal cruelty cases nationwide, this is much deserved.
  • DSPCA
    Is also given €210000 – again, a major charity, based in Ireland’s largest city, and providing an excellent call-out service to help animals in distress.
  • Irish Blue Cross
    Was given €70000, to help them in their valuable work providing veterinary care for animals whose owners are unable to afford private vets.
  • The Donkey Sanctuary
    Received €87000 to help look after donkeys in trouble.
  • AWS Animal Rescue
    The long established charity, now based in Co Tipperary, received €28000 to help achieve their important role in rescuing unwanted pets.
  • Many regional SPCA’s (including Cork, Wicklow, Wexford, Galway and Limerick) received significant sums, ranging from over €10000 to over €40000 to help their work.
  • ASH Animal Rescue
    And many others, received €20000 or more each.
  • Tipp-Off Animal Rescue
    Received €10000, and many other medium sized animal rescue groups were granted between €10 and €20000. They rescued the dogs pictured above.

A large number of other groups received smaller sums, from €1000 to €10000.

One interesting omission which deserves a mention is Dogs Trust: they do not apply for funding, depending entirely on the public for support, as they do in the UK.

Of course governments could always do more, and it is right to criticise aspects of government action and inaction, when needed,

But in this instance, on this issue, in fairness,  all animal welfare people should be saying “Thank you Fine Gael and Labour”. And when it comes to election time, ask yourself – will the Independents, Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail and others continue to be so supportive of animals in need?

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