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Impose ban on all poultry imports - Ó Caoláin

6 April, 2006

A ban on all imports of poultry to the island of Ireland in light of the confirmed avian flu case in Scotland has been demanded by Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin. He said there needed to be a much more determined and concerted approach by the Irish Government to the very real threat that avian flu now poses to the poultry industry and, if it becomes established here, to human health.

Deputy Ó Caolain said: "Confirmation of an avian flu case in Scotland requires an immediate response from both the Irish and British governments. There should be an immediate ban on the importation of poultry to the island of Ireland, regardless of its source.

"Avian flu poses a huge threat, in the first instance to our poultry industry which could be wiped out if the disease breaks out here, and secondly to human health if the human form of the virus becomes established.

"To date the Irish Government has not given this threat the urgent attention it requires. I had to wait a full month for a reply to a Dáil Question regarding the implementation by the Health Service Executive of free flu vaccination for poultry industry workers, a measure brought in last October as part of the response to the avian flu threat. I only received a reply last week and the HSE was still unable to tell me how many poultry workers have been vaccinated. It is alarming that this simple statistic cannot be given. If it is indicative of an overall lack of efficiency and co-ordination then the Government and the HSE have been guilty of negligence.

"We need a much more determined and concerted approach to meet this threat. Vigilance is required on the part of the authorities in health and in agriculture. Monitoring of wildfowl needs to be stepped up in a planned and co-ordinated manner. We need an immediate response from the Minister for Health & Children and the Minister for Agriculture and Food detailing the additional measures that will now be implemented."

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