Restrictions on certain breeds of dogs will be one of the issues discussed by the newly-established Dog Control Stakeholder Group, which will hold its first meeting this month.

The group is made up of representatives from key Government Departments and interest groups and will make recommendations on strengthening the policy and legislation around dog control.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys says she has asked the group to examine the issue of restricting certain breeds of dogs, in line with actions being taken by regions in the UK, including Northern Ireland.

She also announced the appointment of former Deputy Garda Commissioner, John Twomey, as the independent chairperson of the group this week.

“As a dog owner myself, and someone from a farming background, I’m very conscious of the public concern about dog control. We have seen horrendous attacks by dogs on people, including children, in recent months and the issue of sheep worrying in our countryside continues to be a huge problem for our farmers,” said Minister Humphreys.

She added: “As Minister for Rural and Community Development, I have taken a series of measures already. These include the trebling of on-the-spot fines for the most serious dog control offences, as well as the provision of €2 million for dog warden services.

“But I do believe we need to take further action and that’s what this Stakeholder Group is going to consider.”

The group includes representatives from a broad range of interest groups, including farming and animal welfare organisations, such as the IFA, Comhairle na Tuaithe, the Irish Kennel Club and the ISPCA.

The Group will consider dog control issues under the policy remit of the Department of Rural and Community Development.

Discussions will focus on immediate improvements within the limitations of the current situation, whilst also scoping a way forward for longer term changes and improvements.

Themes include ‘restricted dogs’ legislation, guidance on proper dog control, dog breeding establishment standards, and general awareness-raising.