Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Martin Heydon has welcomed an allocation of work permits for the equine and horticulture sector as part of a review of Ireland’s employment permits system.

Ireland operates a managed system which is reviewed twice a year. As part of the most recent review 1,000 permits were made available to the horticulture sector and 100 for equine work riders.

The full list of changes across the construction, logistics, hospitality and agri-food sectors were detailed by Damien English TD, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail on Wednesday.

Commenting on the recent announcement Minister Heydon said: “I engaged extensively with representatives in the horticulture and equine sectors as part of this review, including a number of growers and owners and trainers in Kildare.

“On the back of these engagements I worked closely with the sectors and my Department to build evidence-based cases around the challenges of labour supply domestically and in the EU. The allocations announced this week are as a result of the comprehensive work by all involved.

“The equine sector has a long-standing need for work riders. It is an occupation with niche requirements which are difficult to source.  It is an important sector to the Kildare economy, and I am pleased to see the 100 permits have been well received by the industry.

“Agri-food and agriculture are experiencing unprecedented labour challenges due to the pandemic. These create risks for supply chains and harvests. The 1,000 permits for the horticulture sector will help alleviate some pressure on growers. There will also be 100 permits for dairy farm operatives.

“There remains a demand in these sectors for seasonal workers. Ireland is an outlier in Europe in not having a seasonal employment permit and it is welcome to see legislation from Minister English proceeding to rectify this.”