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Gildernew hosts double NSMC at Greenmount

21 July, 2009


Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has hosted the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) Sectoral meetings on Aquaculture and Marine on Monday 20 July and Agriculture and Rural Development on Tuesday 21 July at CAFRE's Greenmount Campus.

Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Eamon Ryan TD and Minister of State Conor Lenihan TD represented the South at the Aquaculture meeting on Monday, with Junior Minister Robin Newton MLA also in attendance. Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Brendan Smith TD and Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Eamon O'Cuiv TD attended today’s agricultural sectoral meeting, along with Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA.

Referring to progress on the All Island Animal Health and Welfare Strategy Minister Gildernew said: “Progress continues to be made on the development of the Strategy, the ultimate aim of which will be the free movement of animals on the island of Ireland. My officials continue to work closely with their counterparts in DAFF to develop this Strategy.

“Minister Smith and I will be hosting a conference in the Autumn with our respective key industry stakeholders to discuss the outworkings of the Strategy and how it is to be delivered.”

Turning to the benefits of the ongoing co-operation with the south in the field of animal health, particularly with regard to disease control, the Minister said: “Close co-operation on animal health issues on the island of Ireland has the potential to help reduce and prevent animal disease spread, to facilitate trade and to improve the sustainability of farming in the north.

“In the event of an outbreak of a serious epizootic animal disease in either or both jurisdictions, it is recognised that sustained co-operation between both administrations will be essential to prevent the further spread of disease. The problems in Britain due to Foot and Mouth, Avian Flu and Bluetongue have put the spotlight on the value of this approach on the island.

“Contingency plan common chapters have now been agreed for Foot and Mouth Disease, Avian Influenza and Bluetongue. These chapters put protocols in place to ensure timely communication in the event of a disease outbreak. They set out agreed lines of communication at various levels in each Department and with key external stakeholders.”

In addition to dealing with these three key diseases, the model can be adapted in order to deal with any new and emerging diseases, therefore it provides a sound basis for the development of other contingency plans that may be needed.

Discussing other developments at the agriculture sectoral meeting, the Minister said: “In March we agreed to strengthen co-operation in dealing with major incidents such as the recent animal feed contamination issue. We can confirm that an early warning system has been agreed to deal with major incidents of this nature.

“These interim arrangements build on the rapid notification systems that already exist for serious animal disease outbreaks. These systems have now been extended to cover any issues that have a potential impact on animal health and welfare or on animal products or the food chain.”

Minister Gildernew concluded by noting: “At today’s meeting I also briefly outlined my proposals for new legislation on Dog Control and Animal Welfare. I also highlighted the fact that puppy farming needs to be tackled on an All-island basis.

“Both today’s meeting and yesterday’s Aquaculture and Marine meeting have been very constructive and I look forward to the next meetings of both sectors later this year.”

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