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All-Ireland fight against bird flu needed - Bairbre de Brún

6 April, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has this morning called for a "stringent all Ireland response to the spread of avian flu". Michelle Gildernew MP for Fermangh and South Tyrone has also said that the "importation of poultry from Britain must stop immediately".

Ms de Brún made her comments in the light of a possible avian flu outbreak in the North and after it emerged that a swan was detected with avian flu in the East of Scotland last week, with details only emerging yesterday evening.

Speaking from the European Parliament in Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:

For over a year, Sinn Féin has been consistently warning that it was only a matter of time before avian flu reaches Irish shores.

We have called for some time now for a co-ordinated all-Ireland response to any possible outbreak of bird flu on the island. Now is the time to ensure the correct measures have been put in place. We need a stringent all-Ireland response in the fight against bird flu.

An all Ireland and cross departmental working group is needed to implement a working strategy to combat bird flu across the island of Ireland and to ensure that the public has clear and precise information.

Departments of Agriculture on the island need to work together for the sake of animal health. Avian flu needs to be treated in a similar manner to the Foot and Mouth outbreak a number of years ago, as a demonstration of the need for a joined up strategy. Proper co-ordination across the island and a stringent local response was key to combating foot and mouth disease at the time of the Executive.

"Although the impact of avian flu is on birds at present, it is also necessary to have a co-ordinated public health response to deal with any possible mutation of the virus in the future.

"Both the British and Irish governments must state their intentions clearly in the light of the current outbreak.

Ms Gildernew added:

"Time is of the essence on this matter. Both departments of agriculture need to state at what stage does the free movement of poultry across the island stop. In addition, the importation of poultry from Britain must stop immediately." ENDS

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