East Antrim MP Ian Paisley has praised the swift actions of agriculture minister Michelle McIlveen in ensuring her support for vets from outside the European Union who are employed in Britain.
The British Veterinary (BVA) wrote to the Secretary of State and to Environment Ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland requesting an early statement to the effect that non-British EU veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses who are currently living, studying or working in the UK will continue to be able to do so in future.
In her response, Ms McIlveen acknowledged the vital contributions EU citizens make to animal health and welfare.
She said: “I will also endeavour, given the importance of animal and veterinary public health to the local economy, to ensure that this concern [you raise] is represented in the composite Northern Ireland input into the final United Kingdom negotiating position and strategy.”
Mr Paisley, who is an honorary associate member of the BVA, said he was pleased by the minister’s response.
He said: “I am delighted by the swift action taken by the DUP agriculture minister in ensuring the concerns raised by BVA are a priority and our expert vets will be a priority for her in the coming months.
“I have forwarded the concerns of BVA to David Davis MP so as he too is aware of these needs.”
BVA is establishing a Brexit working group to prioritise and develop policies on the key issues that should be raised in forthcoming discussions and negotiations. BVA also continues to work with the RCVS and other bodies regarding the implications of Brexit for the veterinary professions.
Almost half of veterinary surgeons registering in the UK qualified from veterinary schools elsewhere in the EU, according to statistics from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).
BVA members are encouraged to share their feedback on BVA’s community forum under the dedicated ‘What do you think ‘Brexit’ could mean for the veterinary profession?’ thread and to take part in BVA’s bi-annual Voice of the Veterinary profession survey later in the year.