A bill which would restrict the ownership of veterinary practices is expected to pass through the Dáil this year.

The Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Bill brought forward by Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary, Jackie Cahill, is aimed at clamping down on corporate ownership of veterinary practices.

The bill would ensure that veterinary practices can only be owned by licensed vets, preventing private corporate entities from buying up the sector.

“I’m told that the Department are going to give it it’s blessing fairly soon. It has got attorney general approval that it is not anti-constitutional, so that’s fairly significant,” Cahill told the Irish Farmers Journal.

All-party support

“I’m getting worried that we are running out of time with the Dáil. I’ll be hoping that the Ceann Comhairle will give it a bit of preference. I think it will get through the Dáil very quickly because it has all-party support. So, I’m still hoping I can get it done in this Dáil term which is getting tight.”

Having received near unanimous support from both Government and opposition benches in June 2021, the bill is currently still at committee stage.

Jackie Cahill, Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary, brought forward the bill to ban corporate ownership of veterinary practices.

“The bill will essentially mean that corporates cannot buy out veterinary practices,” said Cahill. “In any other country where corporates have taken over practices, two things happen: the costs have increased dramatically and the level of services dropped.”

Cahill also said that employees at corporates are under pressure to meet sales targets for animal remedies. This, he added, is driving up costs as well. “The UK have cited a monopoly as regards corporates and have forced some of them to sell back their practices. France have moved very strongly against it as well, so have Germany and it would be no different here.

“Hopefully we can get this bill finalised – corporates will not add anything to the service veterinary practices give to this country – vets at the moment provide a great service.

“Corporates will only increase the cost and reduce the service,” he said.

Last year, UK corporate VetPartners bought three Irish practices, taking its footprint in Ireland to six.

Separately, Cahill also confirmed to the Irish Farmers Journal that he will run in the next general election.

“I’ll most definitely be running, winning a seat or not is another thing,” he said.