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9 August 2007 Edition

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'Fortress Ireland' approach adopted to prevent entry of Foot and Mouth

Sinn Féin Minister of Agriculture, Michelle Gildernew

Sinn Féin Minister of Agriculture, Michelle Gildernew

Sinn Féin Minister of Agriculture, Michelle Gildernew MP, following an Emergency meeting of the Six County Executive on 4 August to discuss the situation following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in England outlined another of the steps she had taken to prevent the disease entering Ireland.
Gildernew said she has put in place a ban on cattle, goats, sheep and pigs coming into the North of Ireland from Britain. She also revoked all DARD Specific Import Licences for such animals. DARD staff have ensured that both vehicle and foot passenger disinfectant mats have been installed at ports and airports in the six Counties.
Ports staff are also distributing leaflets, including advice on personal disinfection following contact with farm livestock in Britain, advising the public on preventative measures and airlines and shipping companies are making on board announcements. There are also announcements within terminal buildings.
The Minister spoke with farming unions and both DEFRA and the 26 County Department for Agriculture and Food and said she was seeking to hold meetings with agri-food industry stakeholders to keep them appraised of the situation.
“At this time, while there is a total ban on the movement of animals from Britain to the North of Ireland there are no restrictions on the movement of livestock within the North of Ireland and between the North and the South of Ireland. The precautions being taken here mirror those that are in place in the South of Ireland and the purpose of that is to ensure that we avoid any restrictions that may be imposed by the European Union on Britain”, Gildernew said.

Swift response
The Executive thanked the Agriculture Minister for her swift response to the situation and assured the public that all necessary steps would be taken to prevent the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and expressed confidence in farmers and the general public to continue to be vigilant.
Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson in the 26 Counties, Martin Ferris TD said contingency plans to prevent the spread of foot and mouth from Britain to Ireland must be on an All-Ireland basis. Ferris called for urgent action and welcomed co-operation between the two Ministers of Agriculture on the island to fight the spread of foot and mouth from Britain.
On Monday, Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson in the Six Counties, Gerry McHugh praised Minister Michelle Gildernew after it was confirmed that the EU ban on British food imports, following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth in England, will not hit farmers in the North.
“The ‘Fortress Ireland” approach adopted by Michelle Gildernew has paid immediate dividends in that our local industry will not be affected by the EU ban. The ban on livestock and fresh meat will only apply to Britain.
“Too many times in the recent past our local farming industry has been adversely affected by the link with British farming. It is time to break that link once and for all.
“In this instance the swift action taken across Ireland appears to been beneficial but in other areas there is being a high price paid by our local farmers because of the approach in London to farming, particularly at EU level.
“In the time ahead we need to look much more closely at how we can benefit from further cutting the links with British farming and British government agriculture policy and at how we can benefit from the expansion of the all-Ireland approach to agriculture”, McHugh said.
The following day McHugh expressed concern at news that a consignment of pork from County Tyrone was stopped from entering Japan despite the fact that the EU have given producers in the North the green light to continue exporting. 
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