Case for lifting Beef Ban "irresistible"
Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew, for the second time in two weeks, has again raised the lifting of the Beef Ban with British Prime Minster Tony Blair at a meeting in Downing Street yesterday.
Ms Gildernew said:
"Sinn Fein put the case for the lifting of the Beef Ban to the British Prime Minster in Downing Street. I believe that we put forward irresistible arguments that received a positive hearing.
"The British government and indeed local ministers should have progressed this issue with greater urgency because it has and continues to do great harm to the industry. Progress in gaining regional status would have a huge impact benefits, yet there will continue to be difficulties if the British government continues to exclude our OTM beef.
"This demands a clear plan of action with a clear timeframe and mechanisms to advance the case at EU level to remove the Beef Ban.
"The EU has lifted the embargo on Portugal and all restrictions on the export of cows, beef and all related animal products as a result of their response to the BSE crisis.
"The European Food Safety Authority are generally content with the protocols on traceability and the testing of animals which are in place here. They are also content that the risk associated with beef from the North is about the same from other European countries.
"The European Food & Veterinary Office (FVO) report gives the north of Ireland a clean bill of health. Both The Food Safety Authority and the European FSA are content with our testing and monitoring.
"There is no reason for further delay in beginning the process of lifting the Beef Ban. We believe that we have put a compelling case to the British Prime Minster Tony Blair." ENDS