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Agriculture Minister bans British imports

4 August, 2007

Sinn Féin Minister of Agriculture, Michelle Gildernew, following today's Emergency Executive meeting to discuss the situation following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in England has outlined steps already taken. The Minister has put in place a ban on cattle, goats, sheep and pigs coming into the North of Ireland from Britain. She has also revoked all DARD Specific Import Licences for these animals with immediate effect. DARD staff have ensured that both vehicle and foot passenger disinfectant mats have been installed at the ports, as well as local airports.

Ports staff are also distributing leaflets, including advice on personal disinfection following contact with farm livestock in Britain, advising the public on preventative measures and airlines and shipping companies are making on board announcements. There are also announcements within terminal buildings.

The Minister has been in touch with farming unions and both DEFRA and the Department for Agriculture and Food in Dublin and will be holding a meeting with agri-food industry stakeholders to keep them apprised of the situation.

The Minister also said that the Department had been working closely with other devolved administrations.

At this time, while there is a total ban on the movement of animals from Britain to the North of Ireland there are no restrictions on the movement of livestock within the North of Ireland and between the North and the South of Ireland. The precautions being taken here mirror those that are in place in the Republic of Ireland and the purpose of that is to ensure that we avoid any restrictions that may be imposed by the European Union on Britain.

The Executive agreed to continue to monitor the ongoing situation and maintain close contact with the Cabinet Office and DEFRA in London and the Department of Agriculture and Food in Dublin to ensure a comprehensive and co-ordinated response to any further developments.

The Executive was assured that DARD's contingency plans for a foot and mouth disease outbreak, updated in January of this year, took on board the lessons learnt from previous outbreaks.

The Executive agreed that further public information notices will be issued to the media to provide detailed information to farmers, rural dwellers and the general public as to what precautions might be necessary as the situation develops.

The Executive thanked the Agriculture Minister for her swift response to the situation and assured the public that all necessary steps would be taken to prevent the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and expressed confidence in farmers and the general public to continue to be vigilant.

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