IAVS calls for Government inquiry into RCSI

IAVS calls for Government inquiry into RCSI

IAVS calls for Government inquiry and research funding ban on RCSI over animal cruelty code of conduct breach

The IAVS has today called on the Irish Government to establish an inquiry into whether the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) should be banned from receiving EU research grants following the College’s animal cruelty breaches.

An FoI request by the IAVS uncovered severe lab experiments on chinchillas paid for by the RCSI in the USA, where animal welfare regulations are fundamentally weaker than Ireland and the EU. Furthermore, many animals were made to suffer beyond the point where they were supposed to be put out of their misery – which would be illegal in Ireland.

The documents reveal that the RCSI has broken Article 17 of the EU’s ‘Global Code of Conduct’ for research. The Code of Conduct was developed to tackle ‘ethics’ dumping’ through the EU’s Horizon research funding programme, which gave Ireland 1.2 billion euro between 2014 and 2020.

The IAVS has complained to Enterprise Ireland, where Ireland’s contact point for legal issues regarding Horizon Europe is located.

The IAVS has also obtained a ‘shirking’ response from Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Health [1], following a Parliamentary Question tabled by Neasa Hourigan, Green Party TD for Dublin Central. The Minister has refused to initiate an inquiry, even though the RCSI’s misconduct may have implications for the closeness of inspections by the Health Products Regulatory Authority of RCSI vivisection experiments in Ireland.

The RCSI has broken its own animal experimentation guidance, breached Irish legal standards with the USA vivisection project, and failed to even adhere to the basic welfare rules in the project itself. But so far, there has been no official accountability, with the Government appearing to be callously indifferent to the cruelty and misconduct committed by the RCSI.



Question: To ask the Minister for Health whether his Department will conduct an inquiry into the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland use of a US institute to conduct animal research not in accordance with Irish or EU regulations;
and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Written answer: Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes seeks to replace the use of live animals for scientific and educational purposes as soon as it is possible to do so. This legislation applies throughout the European Union and is transposed into Irish law by the European Union (Protection of Animals used for Scientific Purposes) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No. 543 of 2012).

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) is the competent authority in respect of the use of animals for scientific purposes within Ireland. Any project on animals conducted in Ireland must be evaluated by the HPRA in accordance with Regulation 31 of S.I. No. 543 of 2012. Projects must be justified from a scientific point of view or required by law, and must be conducted in the most humane and environmentally sensitive manner possible. This legislation does not apply to any research conducted outside of the European Union.

The HPRA and the Minister for Health have no legal remit in this matter, and therefore there is no basis in national or European law to conduct an inquiry into animal research carried out by a US institute.