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Minister Gildernew updates Assembly on Bluetongue and FMD

1 October, 2007


Sinn Féin Agriculture Michelle Gildernew MP MLA today updated the Assembly on the current disease situation in Britain. Her statement follows confirmation by Defra that Bluetongue is circulating in East Anglia.

On Friday, following that confirmation the Minister reviewed the precautionary measures in place to minimise the risk of Bluetongue reaching the North.

The Minister assured the Assembly that she was taking all necessary precautions to help prevent the disease spreading to the island. 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.

Ms Gildernew said:

"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."

"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."

DARD continues to liaise closely with Defra, other Devolved Administrations and with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Dublin to monitor the Bluetongue situation.

The Minister also took the opportunity to update the Assembly on the ongoing Foot and Mouth situation in Surrey. Since 3rd August there have been a total of 8 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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