Veterinarian’s ‘unjust dismissal’ after animal welfare concerns trigger internal DAERA review

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DAERA has apologized to a vet who won a constructive dismissal case after the “serious animal welfare concerns” she raised were met with hostility.

Dr Tamara Bronckaers’ historic victory over Stormont Department in September was followed by their call.

But in a marked reversal, the department dropped the taxpayer-funded case and has now commissioned an internal review into the issues raised by Dr Bronckaers.

Read more:Vet who raised food safety concerns is set for £1m payout

The whistleblower had worked for DAERA for 19 years and during her career she said she discovered animal welfare lapses in livestock markets as well as failures in the way livestock movements were recorded.

Dr Bronckaers said these issues could impact the traceability of meat as well as the spread of devastating diseases like bovine tuberculosis.

She said at the time: “Animal welfare was a major concern to me and I witnessed first hand animals suffering unnecessarily – in a cattle market there were overcrowded and dirty enclosures , lame sheep and cattle, and animals left overnight without food or water.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs told the Mirror: ‘The Department apologizes unreservedly to Dr Tamara Bronckaers.

“The Department has now agreed to a tentative settlement between the parties, subject to the development of detailed terms, and accordingly, we have formally withdrawn the appeal.”

We asked if any of the issues raised by Dr. Bronckaers had been escalated or investigated.

They added, “The Department takes the protection of individuals who raise a concern very seriously and has commissioned an internal review of this matter and it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.

“This review will be completed as soon as possible.

“The Department has already carried out an internal audit, focusing on the robustness of current animal traceability controls in livestock markets and slaughterhouses and the issues raised by Dr Bronckaers.

“This audit made a number of recommendations which are now being implemented urgently.

“Maintaining high standards of animal traceability and associated disease risk is of the utmost importance and the Department remains confident that traceability and public health have never been threatened.”

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