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Foot and Mouth Disease – Gildernew updates Irish Industry

18 September, 2007

Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has met representatives of agriculture stakeholder groups from the south of Ireland.

The industry was represented by Eddie Punch, General Secretary of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Association and Derek Deane, Deputy President of the Irish Farmers' Association.

The Minister had invited the organisations to meet her in Belfast as she was keen to outline the actions she was taking to reduce the risk of Foot and Mouth Disease coming to Ireland.

Speaking after the Minister said:

"I would like to thank the representatives from IFA and ICSA for taking time to meet me today. I have assured them that I am doing everything possible here to protect the island from FMD and to keep trade moving as normal."

"I outlined the steps I took on 3 August and again on 12 September to close immediately all our ports to susceptible species from Britain, such as sheep, pigs, cattle and goats and to animal products and also to reintroduce disinfection measures. My actions have been consistent with those of the Department of Agriculture and Food in Dublin and other Member States.

"My quick and decisive action and our freedom from disease have been recognised in last week's European Commission Decision to exclude us again from the restrictions placed on Britain.

"I believe it is for the benefit of everyone on the island that trade can continue on the whole island freely and safely. I urge all farmers to stay vigilant and ensure that all biosecurity measures are fully in place and to keep Foot and Mouth disease out of the island."

"The island of Ireland has been free from FMD since 2001. It is only through our vigilance and actions and by working together that we can protect the Island from this devastating disease and safeguard our valuable export market.

"I have been working closely with Minister Coughlan in adopting a Fortress Ireland approach and we will continue to work together to minimise the risk of spread of FMD from Britain to the island." ENDS

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