The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has announced that it has speeded up plans to establish a central equine database.

The database on the animal identification and movement system already contains data on cattle, sheep and pigs.

Minister Simon Coveney said the information will be used by the department's veterinary staff to supplement current checks at slaughterhouses.

It is expected that there will be data for over 70% of equine animals registered since 1 January 1980 on the database, by next week.

Mr Coveney said contacts will continue with the passport issuing organisations that have not provided data with a view to having all the relevant data on the database at the earliest opportunity.

He added: "I have acted swiftly, as I promised to do in the immediate aftermath of the equine DNA issue and will move to the final stage in the establishment of a single passport issuing agency once EU legislation provides me with the overarching legal base to put this into effect."