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Bairbre de Brún to raise Bird Flu issue with food and veterinary officials in Co Meath today

17 October, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún will today raise the question of avian influenza during a meeting with officials from the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) in Grange, Co Meath.

Ms de Brún is one of a number of MEPs from across Europe in an official EU delegation from the European Parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee.

Speaking before the meeting Ms de Brún said:

"Today's meeting with the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) is particularly important, given that it is a European Commission service, operating at European level, that is tasked to ensure that legislation on food safety, animal health, plant health and animal welfare is properly implemented and enforced.

"Important issues to be discussed will include the role of the FVO, recruitment and retention of staff, animal welfare, and a number of animal health and food safety issues, including the question of controls and border controls for imported foodstuffs, as well as public health issues such as avian influenza.

"Given the very serious news that a deadly strain of bird flu has surfaced in Turkey, it is important that there is a unified European and all Ireland response to any potential pandemic. The European Commissioner Marcus Kyprianou recently addressed the European Parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee on the issue of avian flu and those of us from that committee who are travelling to the FVO meeting will be anxious to follow on from that discussion in our work today.

"Sinn Féin will continue to raise this matter at both national and European level. We have been pressing the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Department of Health and Children to co-operate and produce a joint strategy to counter any potential pandemic in Ireland. Both Departments of Agriculture need to work closely together also.

"In addition, I will want to raise questions about South American beef and Brazilian beef in particular with the FVO. Farmers point to the lack of a credible traceability or identification system in contrast to what is expected of us here. In this respect the question of border controls and quality checks becomes all the more important. We will want to know if the same standards apply at all of the EUs border inspection posts. Furthermore, there are major concerns about Foot and Mouth disease in Brazilian cattle which will raise fears in Ireland north and south." ENDS

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