4 October 2007 Edition

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Gildernew updates Assembly on bluetongue threat

Michelle Gildernew

Michelle Gildernew

Updating the Six County Assembly on the bluetongue disease situation in Britain, Sinn Féin Agriculture Michelle Gildernew MP MLA  said she was taking all necessary precautions to help prevent the disease spreading to Ireland. These steps include testing cattle and sheep imported from continental Europe and keeping them isolated on farm until negative test results are received.
The Minister explained that the steps she has already put in place to prevent the spread of Foot and Mouth disease to the North gives the island dual protection against bluetongue disease.
“Due to the Foot and Mouth Disease preventive measures that I reintroduced here on 12 September, our ports remain closed to the import of live animals from Britain which gives us dual protection for bluetongue too”, Gildernew said.
“We cannot however be complacent and if necessary I will not hesitate to take whatever action is required to try to keep the island of Ireland free from bluetongue disease”.
She added: “If bluetongue reaches the North, my Department has a contingency plan in place, which is subject to a continuous process of review and updating.”
Department of Agricultral and Rural Development (DARD)  continues to liaise closely with Department of Food Rural Affairs, other devolved administrations and with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Dublin to monitor the bluetongue situation.
Gildernew also updated the Assembly on the ongoing Foot and Mouth situation in Surrey. Since 3 August there have been a total of eight premises affected by the disease. Protection and surveillance zones are still in place in the Surrey area. DARD is reviewing the situation to ensure that the existing precautionary measures that are in place here continue to be appropriate.

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